It was so easy to predict the Golden State Warriors would beat the Philadelphia 76ers by 40 or 50 points on Jan. 30, especially after recent blowout wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks. Of course, that almost set things up for the Warriors to have the ultimate downfall, and they almost did in the second half, until the Sixers left Harrison Barnes open at literally the last second to clinch a 108-105 win.
Before Barnes’ three-pointer with .2 seconds left, the Warriors looked well on their way to destroying the Sixers as predicted. With a 73-54 halftime lead, it seemed like the Sixers would be lucky not to give up 130 points, but they started inching their way back instead. In fact, they closed it to single digits late, yet a Stephen Curry layup with 47 seconds left appeared to give Golden State a secure six-point lead.
Isaiah Canon brought Philadelphia back almost by himself, hitting a four-point play before stealing the ball from Barnes. He then passed to Ish Smith for the tying layup, putting the Sixers in astonishing position for their eighth win and the Warriors’ fifth loss.
Golden State had 34 points in the first quarter and 39 in the second, yet had only 32 points in the entire second half before the final possession. Barnes himself had only eight points to that point, while Curry had a relatively quiet 23 points and Klay Thompson scored half of his 32 points in the first quarter.
For all of their firepower, the team that is on pace to be the greatest of all time was being stonewalled by a team no longer projected to be the worst of all time. However, the Sixers couldn’t carry the momentum into an overtime, thanks to Barnes preventing one with almost no time to spare.
As such, what could have been the upset of the year and the ultimate ironic result turned into a mere scare and cautionary tale for Golden State. Philadelphia had to settle for a moral victory, which are the main kind of victories it is looking for this season anyway — and this may have been the biggest one yet. However, the end result is still exactly as everyone predicted, regardless of the process.