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Three takeaways after Warriors beat Sixers in Philadelphia

© Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports


Tonight featured two of the NBA’s premiere teams playing in a nationally-televised game, with both down one of their best players. With the Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid and the Warriors without Klay Thompson, both teams still matched up nicely for a game that was decided in the final seconds.

Here are three takeaways from tonight’s 120-117 win for the Warriors:

“With that Puma life on my feet like that little engine I could”

This summer, DeMarcus Cousins signed a reportedly “lucrative, multi-year” deal with Puma.

Tonight, Cousins finished with his 3rd-straight 20-plus point game, and it was absolutely necessary without Klay Thompson in the lineup. Cousins rebounded well, played within himself, and overall looked in much greater control of his game than he has during some games this season. This play below, in which he craftily spun around Mike Scott to secure a one-handed offensive rebound and finish, was typical of Cousins’ night.

Perhaps the most notable thing about Cousins’ stat line tonight, which featured 25 points (9-of-15, 1-of-2 from 3-pt, 6-of-10 from FT), 8 rebounds, steals, 1 block and 1 turnover, was the fact that he committed just 2 fouls in 29 minutes. Cousins has often struggled with fouling clumsily and frequently, so tonight’s variation from that trend was a healthy sign.

As Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill rapped in “Dreams and Nightmares (Intro),” Cousins played with energy with Puma’s on his feet. “With that Puma life on my feet like that little engine I could.”

Maniacal team defense led by Draymond

The Warriors played well offensively tonight, there’s no question about that (although they went 24-of-34 from the free throw line, which allowed the Sixers to get back into the game). They shot 50.6 percent from the floor and 42.4 percent from deep tonight.

Kevin Durant put up 34 points on 11-of-24 from the floor (2-of-7 from 3-pt), Curry had 28 points on 10-of-23 shooting (5-of-15 from 3-pt) Cousins put up 25 points, and Damion Lee had a fantastic 12-point outing (4-of-5 from 3-pt) tonight. But the win came defensively, and like any great Warriors defensive performance, it was spearheaded by Draymond Green.

Green secured all three of his steals in a two-minute period in the fourth quarter, and created an intimidating, cohesive defending front:

Green also rebounded the ball tremendously and pushed the pace in transition, leading to one of those Draymond-at-his-best nights of 6 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals and 3 turnovers. His defensive energy was infectious, and the Warriors secured a 14-6 steal advantage and a 7-3 block advantage.

Curry added 4 steals, Cousins had 2 steals and a block, Lee had 2 steals, Andre Iguodala had 2 steals and 3 blocks, Jordan Bell picked up a pair of blocks, and Shaun Livingston had a block and a steal. It was that effort that spurred a 16-0 run to kick off the second half, and it’s what had the Warriors on the front foot throughout the final minutes of the game.

Curry said after the game that there was a playoff feeling to the game.

You could tell from Curry and Green’s reaction at the whistle that tonight felt like more than some more typical regular season wins:

Brain farts by the young Sixers

Mike Scott played a tremendous game (for the most part) tonight. The Sixers’ forward put up 22 points (7-of-15, 6-of-9 from 3-pt) and 4 rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench tonight. He presented serious matchup problems for the Warriors along with Jonah Bolden 12 points (4-of-5, 3-of-4 from 3-pt), both of whom provided length, athleticism and lights-out shooting from behind the arc.

But Scott made a crucial error late in the game. With a 12-second different between the game and shot clock and the Warriors up by 3 points with possession, Scott fouled Kevin Durant, to the ire and confusion of his head coach Brett Brown, and ESPN’s commentary team:

After Durant made the free throws, Tobias Harris made a 3-pointer, and TJ McConnell caused a turnover from Durant, Ben Simmons was sent to the line by Draymond Green with 10 seconds remaining. After making the first free throw, Simmons intentionally missed the second, poorly, leaving the Sixers down by a pair of points instead of potentially one.

The pair of head-scratching moments will certainly provide teaching material for Brown as he ushers his young team into the playoffs to challenge for an Eastern Conference title.

 

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