They kept it close for awhile, then the team with four All-Stars and a couple of NBA titles kicked it up a notch.

I think that one played out how we thought it would. The Sixers were up for it, and even though they didn’t get their usual contributions from Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Robert Covington, this was a two-point game midway through the third quarter. Did the Warriors have it in neutral during the first half? Maybe. I don’t know.

But it won’t get any more difficult than that. You just played the league’s best team on their home floor. Now you’ve got an understanding of where you are, relative to where you need be, with a return match against the same squad at home in just seven days. To me, that will be the real barometer for how the 2017 Sixers stack up against the best of the NBA.

And yea, Draymond Green and Steph Curry and Steve Kerr had some nice things to say about the Sixers after the game, but what do you expect from them?

“Well, actually, I think the Sixers suck!”

Of course it’s easy to compliment a young team that you just beat by 21 points. Sixers fans will know their club is turning the corner when the feel-good quotes and moral victory rhetoric begins to fade.

Trust the Conditioning

Joel Embiid still is not in game shape and he’s not playing his best basketball.

He went for 12 and 7 on 4-11 shooting and had a game-high seven turnovers in 25 minutes.

Part of the problem, for me, is that he’s still settling for too many mid-range jumpers. He’s receiving the ball too far from the low block and not doing enough work to get closer to the rim either with or without the rock.

There was a sequence last night where he was doubled in the post by Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant, and I’m not sure if Joel was trying to shoot over the pair or get the ball inside to Ben Simmons:

Simmons ended up grabbing the loose ball, but it just seemed like Embiid was in two different mindsets there.

Also, before the entry pass, Golden State got a bit mixed up with their assignments, which left Simmons all alone at the three-point line.

If he ever develops the shot, he has to take this:

Embiid had another sequence about two minutes later where he got Looney one-on-one with a ton of space to operate, but instead of working the ball closer to the rim he settled for a jumper from the same spot where he received it:

There was a similar play in the third where Zaza Pachulia just slapped it out of his hands from the same area on the other end of the court. Embiid didn’t seem to show a ton of urgency when he got the ball in those spots. He’s at his best when he’s closer to the rim using that patented rip-through to unsettle defenders.

Spoiled for riches

Golden State used their entire bench in the win, even before garbage time. Part of the reason you get contributions from the likes of Nick Young, JaVale McGee, and Omri Casspi is because there’s always one of Curry, Durant, Green, or Klay Thompson on the floor. It’s a rotational dream, and Andre Iguodala didn’t even play last night, so go figure.

The Sixers will get there eventually when Markelle Fultz is healthy, but right now it’s proving difficult to stagger Simmons’ and Embiid’s minutes to maximize second team contributions.

That said, there was a point in the 2nd quarter when the Sixers bench was outscoring the Warriors bench by 15 points. Justin Anderson came in to hit a couple of threes, grabbed six boards, and played some nice defense, forcing a turnover and then earning an offensive foul against Shaun Livingston. He finished with 8 and 6 in 16 minutes.

Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had 15 points on the strength of 3-3 three-point shooting (two when the game was already over). Amir Johnson and Jahlil Okafor didn’t get off the bench while Furkan Korkmaz and James Michael McAdoo made late cameos.

T.J. McConnell did not have his best game and finished -19 with 6 points, 7 assists, and 3 turnovers in 29 minutes. For as much as he does well, we’re still seeing instances like this, where a layup somehow becomes a bucket for the other team:

So there’s still too much inconsistency coming off the bench. One of Anderson or TLC needs to rise above the other, Richaun Holmes needs to find his fitness and form in the return from injury, and McConnell needs to limit those errors that pop up from time to time.

Who said it was a pass?

Ben Simmons didn’t shoot the ball well in this game, starting 0-4 in the 1st quarter with a couple of looks right around the elbow.

He started to hit on some hooks and floaters in the second quarter, including this one, which sparked some Twitter debate:

You be the judge.

Anyway, Simmons cooled off after hitting 4 of 7 shots in the second quarter. He went 0-3 in the third as the Sixers let the game get out of reach.

Let ’em play

There was a 1st quarter moment where Joel Embiid swatted Kevin Durant on what I thought looked like a clean play.

He was called for a foul, which resulted in some jawing and double technical fouls,

Draymond Green said this about Embiid and the exchange after the game:

“When him and (Kevin) start barking at each other, I don’t know why that’s a double technical. It’s basketball. I think the fans love to see that. It’s like when Dennis Smith and I said our words earlier in the season. The referees let us say our words and the game carried on. But to double technical guys for that, I don’t understand that. End of the day, it’s basketball and that’s entertainment. It’s not like guys are disrespecting the game or disrespecting each other, they’re not in each other’s faces barking. They’re saying something and walking out of the way. It’s basketball. Why won’t you let that happen? It makes the game fun. It hypes those two guys to go at each other and the game gets better. It gets more interesting. I’m a big fan of it. I’m a big fan of the way (Embiid) plays the way and the way he carries himself. The talk and all of that, I like it. I think more guys should be that way.”

I agree with all of that, but maybe it’s better not to get Durant hyped up, lest he finish with 29 points.