Coming off a 10-point win over Memphis, the Sixers head to San Francisco to take on one of the season’s surprise teams. After overseeing a late-season collapse and tank-job, Mark Jackson has turned the Golden State Warriors around and has them looking like a legit playoff contender.
The key to the Warriors success has been a huge jump in defensive efficiency. Golden State could always score, with guys like Stephen Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson filling it up (when healthy), but Jackson’s plan to turn them into a defense-first team is starting to come to fruition. Thanks to, among other things, a revamped strategy for defending pick-and-rolls, the Warriors have dropped their defensive rating from 109.1, 27th in the league last year, down to 104.9 this season.
One of the biggest factors in the Warriors’ improved D is defensive rebounding. After ranking dead last in the league in defensive rebounding rate last season, Golden State is fourth so far this season, pulling down just over 75 percent of the boards available on their end of the floor. Lee has led the charge, upping his personal DRB% from 19.9 to 23.0.
Sixers Block Party
Against Memphis, Philadelphia went into Mark Eaton-mode, swatting away just about everything the Grizz threw up. In total, the Sixers blocked 12 shots and recorded their highest block percentage (21.8) of the season. The man leading the charge was Spencer Hawes. In his best game of the season - 20 points, an offensive rating of 111 against a defensive rating of just 87 - Hawes blocked 5 shots, with a block percentage of 10.2.
Three Point Shooting
Another area where Golden State has excelled on defense is three-point defense. For the year, they’re allowing an effective field goal percentage of 50.0 on long-range shots, fourth-best in the league. The Sixers are coming off their best game from deep on the season, and they’ve had success from three over the past month. Dorell Wright has been responsible for much of that offense. Over the Sixers’ past five games, Wright has gone 18-37 from three, by far his best stretch of the season after a slow start. That hot streak has his eFG% up to .479, creeping back toward his career norm.