Sixers at Warriors: Storylines to watch for Sixers' road trip finale

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Storylines to watch for Sixers' road trip finale against Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers will wrap up their six-game road trip by facing a team that hasn’t lost at home this month.

Here are the essentials for their matchup with the 15-2 Warriors, who sport the NBA’s best record: 

  • When: 10 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 9:30 p.m. 

  • Where: Chase Center 

  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus 

  • Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

More than one Warriors weapon 

The Sixers will be wary of Stephen Curry, who scored 49 points in Philadelphia last season and has averaged 28.4 through 17 games on 45.5/41.1/96.2 shooting splits. 

Whether or not Matisse Thybulle starts a second consecutive game, expect him to defend Curry plenty and do his best chasing the two-time MVP around the floor. Thybulle's performance was a major reason the nine-man Sixers beat the Kings on Monday as he recorded a season-high 15 points, three steals and a block.

An off night from Curry wouldn’t guarantee a Sixers victory, though. Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins combined for 65 points on only 33 field-goal attempts in Golden State’s win Sunday over the Raptors. Poole has started every game in his third professional season and proven he can be a dangerous scorer, posting 20 or more points seven times. 

Draymond Green is still a unique and excellent player who’s led the Warriors’ top-rated defense. 

Two starters back

Sixers starters Seth Curry and Danny Green are available after missing Monday's win with back stiffness and left hamstring tightness, respectively. Green had been out since suffering his injury during the opener of this road trip in Indiana. Tobias Harris will sit a second consecutive game due to left hip soreness.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid remain out, though it seems Embiid is moving toward a return as long as he progresses well in the coming days. He’s missed the past eight games after testing positive for COVID-19. Head coach Doc Rivers told reporters the MVP runner-up has been working out at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. 

Curry and Green's returns will certainly be welcome for the Sixers. Given how shorthanded the team has been, minutes have piled up quickly for players like Georges Niang, who played a season-high 39 in Sacramento. Tyrese Maxey hasn’t gotten a day off this year and has averaged 38.2 minutes since Nov. 3. 

Contrasting styles 

The Warriors are undoubtedly the favorite to win this game. But can the Sixers at least ensure it’s played somewhat on their preferred terms?

Relative to the Sixers, Golden State plays fast and free. The team ranks sixth in pace and, per Cleaning the Glass, fifth in transition frequency and 25th in turnover percentage. The Sixers, meanwhile, are last in pace, 15th in transition frequency and third in turnover percentage. 

Why the disparities? One reason is the Sixers have replaced Simmons with Maxey, who’s been splendid at taking care of the ball but less adventurous than the three-time All-Star as a passer and open-floor playmaker. Like Simmons, Draymond Green is unafraid of high-risk, high-reward passes. 

Also, when a team is depleted, carefully valuing possessions and conserving energy tends to be more appealing than usual.

“What we told our guys is if we don’t have a fast break tonight, if you don’t see it, back it out and use clock,” Rivers told reporters Monday. “And we told them, 'If we get to the fourth quarter and it’s close, we can win this game.'"