December 10, 2023

3 takeaways after Thybulle locks down Curry in big for over Warriors


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The 76ers kept Stephen Curry away from Ray Allen’s career three-point record and beat a really good Warriors team on Saturday night in a 102-93 win at the Wells Fargo Center. 

Curry, who needed 10 three-pointers entering the game to break Allen’s record, scored 18 points on 6-for-20 shooting from the floor. He was 3 for 14 from beyond the arc.

The Warriors are now 21-5, the Sixers are 15-12.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 26 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. Tyrese Maxey made big points early and later for the Sixers. He finished with 14 points.

Here’s three takeaways:

Thybulle locks down Curry

Matisse Thybulle started the game in Danny Green’s place as the Sixers decided to use their best perimeter defender on Steph Curry from the opening tip. The downside of that decision for the Sixers is it enabled the Warriors to put Curry on the Sixers’ worst offensive player and not have their superstar need to expend much defensive energy.

Still, the two time MVP wasn’t at his best to begin the game, missing his first four field goals. You got to give Thybulle credit for playing tight defense off the ball.

No player can completely shut down Curry, but Thybulle is just about as good as it gets in terms of defensive talent. The 24-year-old blocked one three-point try early in the second quarter and another early in the third. Curry didn’t make a long-distance jumper until 1:45 to go before halftime. 

As a team, Golden State began the game 2-for-15 from three-point range and finished the night 12-for-48. The Sixers were very glad to force Curry to give up the ball and have other Warriors take semi-difficult shots. 

However, Thybulle could not avoid foul trouble. He was called for his third personal with 2:26 left in the first half and Curry pounced on the opening against Tyrese Maxey, scoring eight points before the intermission.

Curry’s constant motion and abundance of skills make him extremely difficult to guard, but Thybulle ensured he didn’t come close to a history-making evening with tremendous defense all game long.

Bench opens eyes

Embiid had an off night Saturday night (which I’ll elaborate on later)

Andre Drummond was a huge plus for the Sixers in his minutes against Nemanja Bjelica, bouncing back from a poor game on Thursday. 

Drummond dunked off of an offensive rebound, slammed in an alley-oop, and found Danny Green for a layup after a sneaky cut by the veteran wing at the baseline. He also did a decent job surrounding ball screens involving Curry and appeared reasonably comfortable guarding away from the paint. The Sixers’ bench played very well overall and lifted the team to a lead as high as 10 points in the second quarter. 

Both Drummond and the second unit were excellent in the second half, too. The Sixers erased a 13-point deficit thanks to their bench. A Thybulle corner three-pointer off of a Furkan Korkmaz drive-and-kick led Warriors head coach Steve Kerr to call a timeout with 9:44 left in the game.

Embiid’s off night

Embiid started 1-for-8 from the floor. He appeared to be hurting from his right side abdominal pain that he first felt Thursday against the Utah Jazz, grabbing the net during one stoppage to stretch the area. 

For a second straight game, Embiid was displeased with the officiating. After drawing a foul on Kevon Looney with 4:14 remaining in the second quarter, he picked up a technical foul, seemingly for swinging his arm in Looney’s direction. Pretty bad call. 

Free throws were one of the few things working for Embiid early on against physical, high-level defense by Looney and Draymond Green. He went 11-for-11 at the foul line. 

Embiid and the Sixers caught a break when Green was called for his fourth foul with 8:27 left in the third for an illegal screen on Thybulle. The three-time champion objected, believing Thybulle had baited the referees into the wrong call, but Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s challenge was unsuccessful. 

Green’s departure benefited Embiid but did not dramatically swing the game in the Sixers’ favor. Looney was solid and smart, and Golden State had success at times fronting Embiid.

The big man was persistent, though, and made an important jumper with 5:04 left to put the Sixers up 89-83. His and-one layup with 2:14 remaining got the 21,016 fans on their feet and loud and extended the Sixers’ advantage to 96-86. And, when the Warriors turned to a zone defense down the stretch, Embiid ripped it up with a foul-line jumper. 

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