Sixers-Warriors observations, 'best' and 'worst' awards: Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, and horrid transition defense
Kevin Durant scored 29 points in three quarters of action.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Here are my key takeaways and "best" and "worst" awards from the 76ers' 135-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at Oracle Arena.
The 76ers aren't as good as their previous five-game winning streak suggested. Nor are they as bad as their 21-point loss to the Warriors would make you think. They were just a solid young team being schooled by a squad boasting four NBA all-stars. The Sixers played hard and showed glimpses of why they are receiving plenty of hype. However, their transition defense doomed them: The Warriors scored 32 transition points.
Joel Embiid's bravado was used against him on this night. Looking for motivation, Kevin Durant yapped at Embiid after being fouled by the Sixers center with 2 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first quarter. Embiid responded. Both players received technical fouls. Energized, Durant went on to light up the Sixers.
Justin Anderson should have played more. The reserve swingman finished with eight points on 3-for-4 shooting. He made both of his three-pointers and had six rebounds in 16:01 of action.
The Sixers might be phasing out Amir Johnson now that Richaun Holmes is getting into game shape. Johnson signed a one-year, $11 million deal with the Sixers in July. However, Saturday marked the first time he didn't play in a regular-season game since Jan. 11 of last season as a Boston Celtic. Friday's DNP came after he played just 6:47 against the Sacramento Kings on Thursday.
Barring injury setbacks, Embiid is at least a month away from being the player we witnessed playing at a high level last season. Being over his ideal weight and out of game shape is noticeable on the floor.
‘Best’ and ‘Worst’ awards
Best performance: How could I give this to anyone not named Durant? The Warriors' all-star forward finished with a game-high 29 points in just three quarters of action. He made 11 of 18 field goals, including 3 of 6 three-pointers, to go with two steals and two blocked shots.
Worst performance: This was a tough one. I decided to give it to Robert Covington on a night when teammates Embiid and Ben Simmons had worse shooting performances. He finished with 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting. He was mostly a bystander on defense. Perhaps it had to do with guarding the dominant Warriors, but the Sixers small forward didn't come close to displaying his trademark, lockdown defense. He finished with a game-worst minus-24 plus-minus rating.
Best defensive performance: Draymond Green gets this after finishing with a game-high five blocks to go with two steals. The Warriors all-star forward also had a solid all-around game with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists.
Worst statistic: This goes to Simmons' combined 0-for-7 shooting in the first and third quarters. The Sixers point guard missed his four shots in the first quarter. Then he missed his three attempts in the decisive third quarter.
Best statistic: This goes to Golden State shooting 96.2 percent (25-for-26) from the foul line.
Worst of the worst: I had to give this to the Sixers' transition defense. They looked flat-out confused while leaving players wide open. That contributed to the Warriors' shooting 51.9 percent (14 for 27) on three-pointers.