clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sixers Overcome Their Own Mistakes, Down Pistons in Battle of the Bigs 108-103

The brutes took center stage, ahem, and lived up to the hype.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

A standard Saturday night 76ers-Pistons affair escalated into something greater than that due to media barb-based beef between Andre Drummond and Joel Embiid that gained momentum leading into the game. In a packed house, Drummond and teammate Tobias Harris spurred a comeback from down 19 to take the lead in the fourth quarter. But Drummond fouled Embiid twice in a few possessions to foul himself out, and in the process the Sixers pulled away from the Pistons and pulled out the victory.

The Sixers led by 16 at halftime, 63-47, off a dominant first half. But the Sixers hit their normal third quarter woes, committing eight turnovers in the 12 minutes on a bevy of awful passes. Dario Saric and Ben Simmons were the primary culprits. It allowed Detroit to tie the game after the third quarter at 80, which led to the close finish. Only hitting some contested threes kept the Sixers in the game. The bad quarter was entirely self-inflicted.

Embiid finished with 25 points, though they weren’t easy to come by (again, Drummond came to play, with 5 steals and tough defense - give him plenty of credit). He finished just 7 of 21 from the court, though five were missed layups that he usually would make. Drummond affected enough of Embiid’s shots to have an impact - though I’d argue Detroit’s best defender on him was Boban Marjanovic - who only got spot first half minutes. Thanks, Stan Van Gundy!

Embiid wasn’t the Sixers’ best player tonight, however: Robert Covington was. He found his shot tonight and used it plenty, finishing 6-13 on threes and making plays off the bounce (?!?!) to finish with 25 points. Three point shooting variance is basically the story of Robert Covington’s offense for his entire career, but he made a couple of pull-up shots and brought the trademark defense.

While ostensible counterpart Tobias Harris exploded for 27 efficient points, he mostly operated against Ben Simmons (more on him below) in high and side pick-and-roll and made it work with tons of midrange attempts. He looked much better than in the team’s first matchup, and I’m not sure the Sixers played him poorly. He just played well.

But it wasn’t enough. The Sixers put Detroit in such a big hole they could afford to play one of their worst quarters of the season and still beat a team ahead of them in the standings.

Six(ers) Shots

  1. Ben Simmons had his worst professional game tonight offensively, finishing with just five points on six shots in 39 minutes. Measuring performance purely on points scored is of course a fool’s errand, and feasibly one could have more of an impact than just by scoring. Simmons... did not have much of an impact. If Simmons isn’t putting pressure on the defense, he can’t have much of an impact due to his lack of perimeter shooting, and while he racked up six assists (five in first half), he rarely did that either. Detroit formed a bleeping wall in the paint, and Simmons looked hesitant to try and challenge it.
  2. Simmons also committed a flagrant offensive foul in the fourth quarter, when he bopped Stanley Johnson in the head with the basketball after an inbound. His frustration clearly got the better of him. He handled the point for all 39 of his minutes, and I wonder whether that level of responsibility without a break could be draining on him.
  3. The first matchup with the Pistons was the first true great Simmons/Embiid combination performance. Tonight’s matchup was arguably the worst. The Sixers won each time.
  4. The rest of the team played much better this time around. Two players to highlight are Amir Johnson and Dario Saric. Amir gets his share of blocks but by-and-large can’t defend the rim, but he’s been an active rebounder and has a nice two-man game with virtually every Sixers wing and guard. He tallied six assists, mostly off of that action. Saric is finding his groove among the starting lineup, finishing with 17 points and filling gaps on the floor as best he can.
  5. The Process Sixers now have six wins against the Stan Van Gundy Pistons
  6. The Sixers honored Philadelphia basketball legend Sonny Hill at halftime during the game, which was great. Allen Iverson was in attendance, looking like himself as much as ever and drawing a standing ovation upon introduction. It was believed to be his first appearance at Wells Fargo Center this season.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Liberty Ballers Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Philadelphia 76ers news from Liberty Ballers