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January 30, 2016

Inside the play: Harrison Barnes ruins Sixers’ upset bid after decision to double Steph Curry

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Before Tag Team took the floor for a riveting rendition of “Whoomp! There It Is,” the 7-41 Philadelphia 76ers were predictably getting shredded by the powerhouse Golden State Warriors (43-4). The Dubs rang up 73 points on 26 assists by halftime.

After the break, something crazy happened: Golden State stopped scoring. With 22.3 seconds remaining in the game, the Dubs had only managed 32 points in the second half, which allowed the Sixers to tie the score at 105 with under a minute left. The Wells Fargo Center was pretty darn lit.

So, about that last play:

After the game, Brett Brown said that the Sixers were looking to double Steph Curry. And in his words, he has no buyer’s remorse after Harrison Barnes’ wide-open corner three allowed the reigning NBA champs to escape by the skin of their teeth, 108-105.

“Everybody has different sort of strategies, we have a thing called [the] ‘Anybody but…’ rule,” Brown said. “Anybody but Dirk, anybody but Kobe, anybody but Durant, anybody but the MVP. We’ll take our licks whatever else happens. To have Curry walk down a game is not how we’re going to leave this gym.”

Golden State might be the toughest team in the league when it comes to keying in on one guy and one guy only. Curry quickly hit Draymond Green, who pinged the ball directly to Barnes. The Sixers got the ball out of the MVP’s hands, but they also had to live with a 38 percent shooter getting a wide-open shot.

They died.

Should the Sixers have doubled? Nobody can guard Curry, but on the switch, Nerlens Noel is very adept at moving his feet. You can see Ish Smith start running to stick with Green, but Brown had other plans.

“Coach called me to hit him,” Smith said. “They swung, Draymond made a great play, and that’s why they’re a good team. I want to say they lead the league in assists and a lot of it is because of Draymond making the right play.”

Maybe the Sixers should have fouled? They had one to give. Noel was apparently going to try for a steal (worst-case scenario, the Warriors inbound the ball with five seconds left), but then Smith doubled.


Even on a night when the Warriors were sloppy, they made a championship-level play when it mattered most. And Brown can live with his important decision, while also hoping he’ll have to make countless more in the years to come.


Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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