Why the struggling Warriors could play the 76ers at the right time – NBC Sports Bay Area and California
SAN FRANCISCO — As crazy as it sounds, the Warriors could face the Philadelphia 76ers at the right time when the two teams play Tuesday at Chase Center.
Philadelphia is one of the best teams in the entire NBA and ranks third in the Eastern Conference.
But all is not well in the city of brotherly love.
Joel Embiid, the NBA’s reigning MVP and a leading contender for a repeat this season, has missed the Sixers’ last two games, including Monday’s game at Portland, with a knee injury. Likewise, Tyrese Maxey, who may be Philadelphia’s most improved player this season, has had an ankle injury that has kept him out of the team’s previous two games.
Philadelphia is clearly a much different player without those two. For Golden State, which has had all sorts of defensive woes this season, this could open the door for the team to get back on track after their heartbreaking one-point losses to the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.
Obviously, Embiid is the 76ers. Key weapon, but Maxey has dramatically improved his game and become one of Philadelphia’s best playmakers after the team traded James Harden to the Los Angeles Clippers earlier in the 2023-2024 NBA season.
Although his shooting numbers have been down the past few weeks, Maxey leads the NBA in average minutes played and is averaging career highs in points (25.7), assists (6.6), and rebounds (3.6).
Maxey was not named to the All-Star team, but many people in the NBA expect him to be added to the East squad when the reserves are announced later this week.
“He has great speed and shooting range. That combination means you have a lot of courts to cover,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday. “When he attacks close players, he gets to the rim, and he can finish the game. It is very difficult to stay in front of him. He makes a lot of mistakes. “He really has become a hell of a player.”
If Maxey is cleared to play, his matchup with Warriors guard Stephen Curry would be very interesting.
The two have met four times before, with Curry winning three games to one.
Curry clearly got the best out of Maxey when paired. The Warriors’ leading playmaker averaged 30.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the four games. Maxey, on the other hand, had modest stats of 16 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists during that span.
This season, both players have been explosive at times.
Curry came off his season-high 46 points in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers and has remained under 20 points in just six of his 40 games this season. Curry scored 49 goals against 76 players during the 2020-21 season.
Maxey reached double figures in all but one of the 42 games he played this season, scoring a career-high 50 points against the Indiana Pacers in November.
However, it may not matter at all, if Maxi can’t play.
The same can be said for Embiid, who needs to return to the 76ers lineup soon in order to remain eligible for the MVP award.
Simply put, he has been, and will continue to be a beast to contain when healthy.
“You don’t really have Joel Embiid,” Green said Monday. “Joel presents a lot of challenges. He’s probably the biggest guy we have in the NBA in terms of block. However, he’s probably one of the smartest players and best ball skills, scoring threats that we have. Any move a guard can make, he can make.” With it.
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(Tags for translation)Draymond Green