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Sixers-Pistons Preview: Welcome back, Nerlens

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Nerlens Noel makes his season debut while Joel Embiid gets the night off.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers
Welcome back Nerlens!
John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

In a small flurry of good news-bad news, the Philadelphia 76ers go into Motown with yet another change to the roster makeup as they face off against the Detroit Pistons. Good news is that Nerlens Noel will be making his season debut off the bench. Bad news is that Joel Embiid will be sitting out due to logjam a combination of “load management” and “elbow inflammation”.

Only coming off just their fifth win, and already through a quarter of the season, it’s been a tough battle for the Sixers to overcome their short-comings from talent disparity to inexperience. Even a young star-in-the-making in Joel Embiid can only carry the team so far, due to his game and minute restrictions (and he’s been hauling this team through a few feet of snow, up-hill, both ways). Plus, the promise of reinforcements hasn’t gone as expected, with biggest one is still without an ETA. Get well soon, Ben.

By the way, has anyone seen Jerryd Bayless? Better question, will we see him again this season, especially with discouraging reports of his lingering wrist injury?

At the least, adding Noel back into the picture will give Brett Brown and the Sixers another option when Embiid is off the court. Functionally, he’d provide a defensive boost to a team that really drops off defensively without Joel. It’s difficult to say how long Noel will remain with the team, especially with his dissatisfaction, the front court logjam, and swirling rumors. However, it’ll still be nice to see him play once more in a Sixers uniform.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Pistons have spent most of the season trying to keep afloat until the return of lead guard, Reggie Jackson. In his stead, former 76er Ish Smith has been steering the ship through that storm effectively enough. All things considered, the Pistons have done a good job weathering it out to around a .500 record and remaining competitive in the non-Cavalier division of the Eastern Conference.

In their latest outing, the Pistons blew out the Timberwolves behind a dominating 22 point/22 board performance by Andre Drummond. With the combination of a dynamic guard and a commanding post presence, expect a heavy dose of Jackson-Drummond pick and roll. Consequently, prepare for the headache in watching Philly get beat to death by it.

That said, the Sixers have been playing relatively well over the past week. They’ll need to summon the same amount of effort and energy they had against New Orleans, Boston and Memphis to have a chance against this probable playoff team. Hard to feel confident that they’ll turn them upside down, but stranger things have happened!