NBA Preview: The Process meets The Dynasty as the Sixers travel to Golden State.
Philadelphia 76ers (6-5) at Golden State Warriors (9-3), Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST
Line: Warriors -14. Total: 230.
This game between Philly and Golden State has all the makings of a classic. The contest will certainly be entertaining at minimum. We have star power on both sides. The Warriors have the veteran superstars and future Hall of Famers with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. The Sixers have young, budding superstars with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
This is must-see television for any fan of the NBA.
We have a Sixers team who “red-shirted” several young stars due to injury the past three seasons. The Warriors have built a dynasty during those same three seasons. The Philadelphia brass have asked their fans to “trust the process”, while this Golden State squad already had a “process” in full gear. The Warriors have made the NBA Finals three straight years, won the most games in regular season history two years ago with 73, won 15 consecutive playoff games last season and won two NBA championships.
Golden State arguably has their best roster ever this season. Despite Kevin Durant missing the Warriors last game against the Timberwolves, Golden State did not miss a beat on offense. However, it did take the Warriors offense 24 minutes of game time to adjust to Durant not being on the floor.
Golden State shot 47.7% from the floor in the first half en route to a 51-50 lead over Minnesota. However, the Warriors stepped it up several notches in the second half. Golden State shot 65.9% from the field during the final 24 minutes, scoring 74 points while pulling away from the Timberwolves.
Thompson scored 20 second-half points, while Nick Young scored 9 and Curry, Omri Casspi and Patrick McCaw all added 8 points for the Warriors in the second half. Golden State had 37 assists for the game, which has become their staple. The Warriors now have 129 regular season games of 30+ assists since the start of the 2014-15 season. Nobody else is even close during that timeframe.
However, the Warriors opponent on Saturday is somewhat close when it comes to assists per game this season. Golden State ranks #1 of course, averaging 31.0 assists per game. But even die-hard NBA fans probably would not know that this upstart Sixers team ranks #2 in the league in team assists per game with 25.9.
Although perhaps people should not be surprised Philly is second in the league in assists per game. Last year the Sixers finished #6 at 23.8 assists per game. “Trust the process” indeed. Golden State was #1 of course at 30.0 assists per game last season.
Golden State’s current mark of 31 assists per game this season cannot be understated. If the Warriors finish the season at 31.0, they would rank #3 all time in league history. Only the Showtime Lakers in 1984-85 at 31.40 assists per game and the Milwaukee Bucks in 1978-79 at 31.24 finished higher. Currently ranking #3 are the Lakers in 1982-83 with 30.72 assists per game.
The biggest reason for the Sixers jump to #2 in the league in team assists is their rookie “red-shirt” player Ben Simmons. Simmons, a 6-10 point guard, became the first player since Grant Hill in 1983-84 to rack up 18 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in his NBA debut.
The accolades for Simmons do not stop there. He became just the third player in league history to record a triple-double in the first four games of his career. Simmons also joined Oscar Robertson as the only two players in league history to average 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists in their first four games. After 11 games, Simmons is averaging 17.8 points per game, 9.4 rebounds per game and 7.8 assists per game, to go along with 1.7 steals per game and 0.8 blocks per game.
Simmons is joined by his flamboyant and extremely talented teammate, Joel Embiid. Embiid is a 7-foot center who can dribble like a point guard and shoot three-pointers and long fade-away jumpers like Dirk Nowitzki. He only played 31 games last season after sitting out his first two seasons with foot issues. Embiid is just as entertaining on the court as he is off the court. He is also productive, averaging 20.7 points per game, 10.7 rebounds per game, 3.4 assists per game, while also collecting 1.6 blocks per game and 1.2 steals per game this season.
The future looks bright for Philadelphia if these two budding superstars can stay healthy.
From a handicapping perspective, I see this young Sixers team playing right into the fast pace that Golden State loves to play at. As well they should, because the Sixers currently rank #4 in pace, one spot ahead of the Warriors, who rank #5 in pace. However, this young Philadelphia squad does get sloppy at times. The Sixers only rank #22 in offensive rating and #11 in points scored per game. The Warriors rank #1 in both of those categories. With all this said, I feel this game will go over the Vegas total.
As far as the Vegas spread goes, I think the Sixers can stay under that 14-point number. Philly came into Oracle Arena last season with a lot less talent and lost 106-104 to the Warriors. The Sixers led 90-78 entering the fourth quarter before Golden State rallied to win the game. However, Durant did not play in that game for the Warriors. Philadelphia did not have Embiid or Simmons for that game.
Sixers: Jarryd Bayless is out with a bruised right wrist. Markelle Fultz is out with a scapular muscle imbalance and soreness in his right shoulder. Warriors: Kevin Durant is probable with a thigh contusion. Shaun Livingston is questionable with a left knee injury.
20-9 (regular season), +$1010.
#1 Sides: 17-8
#1 Totals: 18-7
Philadelphia / Golden State over 230, laying $110 to win $100 – I already talked about the pace rankings for both teams and how Philly will not be afraid to run with the Warriors. Durant is back for Golden State, even though the Warriors scored 125 points without him on Wednesday. I do expect a fourth-quarter slowdown in this game. So I may consider adding a first quarter and/or first half over play in addition to this play.
Edit, 3:55 p.m. EST:
Sides: (1) Orl, (2) Sac, (3) Min, (4) Bkn, (5) Mem, (6) Chi, (7) NO, (8) Was, (9) Dal, (10) LAL, (11) GS
Totals: (1) GS ov, (2) Bkn un, (3) NO ov, (4) Min un, (5) LAL un, (6) Was un, (7) Mem un, (8) Chi ov, (9) Dal ov, (10) Sac un, (11) Orl ov
Additional thoughts: Strong chart-play to fade the Sixers after they covered 7 games in a row before not-covering their last game at Sacramento. However, my gut tells me they keep this game close. So when I am torn like this, the ranking on the game drops to the bottom.
I am debating bets on my top 3 sides.
Orlando is 2-0 straight up and ATS (Against the Spread) in back ends of back-to-back games. They beat Cleveland 114-93 and New Orleans 115-99 on the road earlier this season.
Sacramento has a strong chart-play on their side. However, the Knicks have been tough at home, 5-2 straight up and ATS.
There is still a chart-play to fade Phoenix. The Suns were 4-1 straight up and 5-0 ATS when new coach Jay Triano took over. However, now that the extra effort given to the new coach has worn off after those five games, the Suns have lost five straight and have not come close to covering any of those games.
If I add any plays, I will post them here.
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