The Warriors’ third-quarter magic isn’t magic

The Warriors have been here so many times that it’s a huge part of their script. The inevitability of it all doesn’t negate how remarkable their comebacks are.

Falling into a 19-point deficit to the Philadelphia 76ers in the second quarter, the Warriors knew the adjustments they needed to make: tighten the grip on defense, get easy buckets in transition, and put the game out of reach.

Led by the infectious energy and defense of Andrew Wiggins and Juan Toscano-Anderson, the Warriors took the lead in the third quarter and rolled to a 116-96 win at Chase.

Here are a few observations from the fifth straight win and 12th in the last 13 games for the Warriors (16-2):

Caught Slipping

The Sixers jumped the Warriors in the first quarter with a 20-4 run. This run was attributable more to what Golden State failed to do than what Philadelphia did. Defensively, the Warriors were out of sync. Rotations were missed. The Sixers were getting any and everything they wanted out of an ineffective zone. And not to mention excessive fouling. Draymond Green had to sit for pockets of the first half because of his four fouls. In Green’s absence, not only did the defense suffer; the offense sputtered without his playmaking.

If the lack of attention to detail on defense wasn’t bad enough, the 11 turnovers in the first half made matters worse. For a pass-heavy team such as the Warriors, the turnovers are often a by-product of their playing style. However, the unforced turnovers due to being unaware and sluggish are unacceptable.

Pace To Pace

The Sixers are among the league’s worse in pace. Since Joel Embiid’s absence, it has forced them to play small which in turn made them play faster. Philadelphia had the pace, energy, and momentum in the first half due to playing faster. The Warriors began to match that energy late in the second quarter, while the Sixers waned to the point of letting a 19-point lead evaporate to nine by halftime. Which leads to…..

A Classic Third Quarter

It didn’t take the Warriors long in the third quarter to take the lead. The Warriors locked in on defense and in typical Warriors’ fashion created easy baskets in transition from their stops. For head coach Steve Kerr, the defense is the foundation for these third-quarter blitzes.

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“We got great performances off the bench by Gary and Juan — two of our better defenders,” Kerr said, linking Gary Payton Jr. and Toscano-Anderson. “And the defense leads to the offense. The ball started to move because we were in transition and so it was a beautiful second half.”

“That’s our identity,” said Steph Curry. “We try to continue to prove it. Rely on it every night… We can score with the best of them but when we flipped the switch and got stops, and made them take tough shots especially in the second half, and turn that into offense, it unlocked the game for us.”

The Sixers, to their credit, did a great job sustaining themselves and remaining competitive despite the Warriors’ run. But after outscoring the Sixers 34-23 in the third quarter, the Warriors held Philly to 12 points in the fourth.

A Surge In The Fourth

The Warriors kept the same momentum from their latest third-quarter binge into the fourth quarter as they rode a 15-3 run in the middle of the fourth to eventually pull away. Toscano-Anderson was the catalyst of the late-game surge. The hug Kerr gave Toscano-Anderson at the final horn was meaningful.

“Juan, a week ago was out of the rotation,” Kerr said. “And it’s just so great as a coach to know you can always count on a player like Juan. You can start him. He can be your eighth man. He can be your 12th man, but you always know what you’re getting.

“Players love playing with him. Coaches love to have him out on the floor because of his energy; because of his brain. He just got a great feel; great competitive desire. I think last year, I talked a lot about how he’s a lot like Draymond (Green) in that regard. So he just stuck to it. I’m really proud of him the way he stuck to it after we went away from him a few games.”

Steph 25- Seth 24

No matter how hard Seth Curry tries, he can not escape Stephen Curry’s shadow.

He can’t ever seem to beat him either.

In this latest episode of Curry vs. Curry,  Seth gave Steph everything he had individually, outscoring Steph for most of the game until the second-half surge.

Steph finished the game with 25 points on 9-of-16 from the field. His six three-pointers brought him within 50 of Ray Allen for No. 1 on the all-time list. At his current pace — 5.4 per game — Curry would pass Allen on Dec. 14 at Madison Square Garden.

For the Sixers, Seth scored a team-high 24 points on 50 percent shooting from the field.

According to ESPN, Seth has never outscored Steph in head-to-head matchups since they’ve been in the league. That streak still stands.

 

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