Ben Simmons, 76ers Hold Off Stephen Curry-Less Warriors in Win

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 24, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) shoots against Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to roll even without Joel Embiid.

While Philadelphia let a commanding lead slip away, it still defeated the Golden State Warriors 108-98 in Tuesday's showdown at Chase Center. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons led the way for the victors, who improved to 31-13 overall and 9-1 in their last 10 with their third consecutive win.

An impressive showing from Kelly Oubre Jr. wasn't enough for the Stephen Curry-less Warriors, who fell to 22-22 on the campaign with a second straight loss.

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

SIXERS WIN AFTER DARK! https://t.co/Rcmrr2fZY1


Notable Player Stats

  • Tobias Harris, F, PHI: 25 PTS, 13 REB, 4 AST
  • Ben Simmons, G, PHI: 22 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST
  • Tony Bradley, C, PHI: 18 PTS, 11 REB, 2 STL, 2 BLK
  • Kelly Oubre Jr., G, GS: 24 PTS, 10 REB, 3 AST
  • Jordan Poole, G, GS: 19 PTS, 4 REB
  • Damion Lee, G, GS: 16 PTS


Strong Finish Saves Sixers from Collapse

Philadelphia came into Tuesday's game with a 4-1 record since Embiid's injury, and the formula has been fairly straightforward.

Harris was the leading scorer in four of those contests, while Simmons dished out assists and Dwight Howard controlled the boards off the bench. It looked like it would be more of the same against the Warriors as the Sixers built a 24-point lead in the first quarter alone in dominant fashion.

Golden State had no answer for Simmons' ability to slice through the lane and get out in transition, Harris had a double-double by halftime and Tony Bradley set the tone on the inside. Throw in some three-pointers from Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz and a spark from Shake Milton off the bench, and the game looked over in the early going.

Sixers Stats @SixersStats

.@sixers had 3 12-point scorers in 1st half (@BenSimmons25, @tobias31 & @ToBrad1). Bradley's 12 pts are tied for most he's scored in a half in his career (3/11 at CHI). Harris had 11 rebs, the 2nd-most he's had in a half in his career. Eleventh dbl-dbl of season. h/t @Stathead

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

Made ya look. @BenSimmons25 x @FurkanKorkmaz https://t.co/dSamG5lorw

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

💪 @ToBrad1 💪 https://t.co/qVFDCDjDjd

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

A double-double from this guy already. @tobias31 | #HereTheyCome https://t.co/swcDFuEVOu

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

Make that a new career-high for @ToBrad1. 📺 @NBCSPhilly | @NBAonTNT https://t.co/xa7vGWVHND

And then the third quarter happened.

The 76ers offense went completely stagnant while being outscored 40-21 in the frame. All the positive signs the visitors displayed out of the gates without their star quickly faded as they struggled to generate the open looks they had while controlling the start.

The turnaround was also a testament to the Warriors' ability to prevent Philadelphia from getting out in transition where Simmons is so dangerous, but it was still jarring to see from the No. 1 seed in the East against a Curry-less bunch.

Fortunately for the 76ers, they closed on a 22-6 run in crunch time with Simmons, Harris and Milton scoring or assisting on 18 of those points. While they surely would have preferred a drama-less finish, they can at least take solace knowing players outside of Embiid won the game in the key moments before playoff time when opponents will focus much of their attention on slowing the big man.


Frantic Comeback Falls Short for Warriors

The supporting cast for the Warriors is firmly under the spotlight.

Prior to Tuesday's game, head coach Steve Kerr told reporters an MRI revealed inflammation in Curry's tailbone. The two-time MVP will be reevaluated in a week and miss a handful of games, leaving a team that is already without Klay Thompson even more short-handed.

That means players such as Andrew Wiggins, who scored 40 points in Friday's win over the Memphis Grizzlies, and Jordan Poole, who scored a combined 74 points in the previous three games, figure to be difference-makers in the immediate future.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Started the quarter down 14 & ended it up five 😎 https://t.co/6Qc8fZius7

Golden State Warriors @warriors

K3⃣LLY 📺 @NBCSAuthentic https://t.co/Rinu27UICR

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Steph was hyped after the Damion Lee three 😂 Tune in to @NBAonTNT now for the finish https://t.co/U8S2MACU0q

Golden State Warriors @warriors

J-Wise droppin' dimes 👀 https://t.co/X16eeCjXzx

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Go up & get it ✈️ 📺 @NBCSAuthentic https://t.co/aAlm1T5KOW

They must have missed the memo at the start, as Poole, Wiggins and Draymond Green were a combined 4-of-20 (20 percent) from the field in the first half.

Everything switched in the third quarter when Oubre took over for extended stretches, Wiggins hit back-to-back threes, Poole improved his efficiency by getting to the free-throw line and Damion Lee, who did what he could to keep his team within striking distance in the first half, added critical offense off the bench.

While Green was playing the role of point forward, the second-half offense largely ran through Oubre. His aggression helped swing the momentum, and his rebounding also helped create extra possessions.

The offense fizzled when it mattered most, though, as Golden State managed an ugly 13 points in the fourth quarter without Curry on the floor to play the role of closer.


What's Next?

Both teams are on the road Thursday when the 76ers face the Los Angeles Lakers and the Warriors play the Sacramento Kings.