Joel Embiid posted a monster 39-point, 17-rebound stat line Saturday afternoon in a Sixers matinee outing with Detroit as Philadelphia won, 109-99. The awaited Embiid-Andre Drummond matchup favored Embiid, as he churned early points. Embiid blew past Drummond off the dribble for a dunk, received a post touch which led to a spin into a left-hand and-1 layup, then finished a transition alley-oop from Simmons.
Embiid jumpstarted an early Sixers run and he helped stave off a Pistons comeback with his consistent interior scoring. He also regularly appeared at the line, which his dominance rendered the Pistons’ defense almost helpless. He went to the line an astounding 23 times and converted 18 of his attempts there. Embiid’s power and touch were simply aesthetically pleasing, following a couple Sixers games this week that were difficult to digest. Embiid’s placing a stamp on his best-center-in-the-league resume and stopping him is a highly difficult task for opposing coaches.
Just for fun stat: Embiid is averaging 40.0 PPG in November.
While Detroit couldn’t find a formula to limit Embiid’s offensive impact, Philadelphia sent reinforcements to minimize Blake Griffin’s contributions. Griffin finished with 38 points on 12-for-21 shooting from the floor, but had to relinquish the rock when help came his way. Langston Galloway (13 points, 4-of-8 from the floor) was Detroit’s only relatively successful bench option while Landry Shamet thrived in Philadelphia’s second unit.
Detroit opened the third quarter on an 11-0 run, and both Embiid and Simmons went to the bench with four fouls apiece, but Brett Brown stopped their momentum - making substitutions including Shamet and Markelle Fultz.
Shamet’s role for Philadelphia is ever-evolving, and he’s becoming more adapted to the NBA atmosphere with each game. Philadelphia can rely on their No. 26 pick for agility in the half court and an offensive spark. Mike Muscala opened 0-for-7 but nailed a top-of-the-key three after deflecting a pass with his back turned to the ball handler. He finished with 14 points and went 6-for-6 from the line, accumulating minutes at the power forward position to give Philadelphia a perimeter threat.
Muscala, like Shamet, offered scoring in Brett Brown’s second unit this week and they really delivered when Embiid and Simmons were sitting in the third quarter. Philadelphia led 85-72 after the third quarter.
Muscala gained traction in the power forward rotation with his shooting and Dario Saric’s struggles to open the 2018-19 regular season, but Saric slightly rebounded with two early shots and just one turnover in 20-plus minutes. Despite going 0-for-3 over his final three shots, Saric, for what it’s worth, looked more impactful this afternoon.
Both Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons found success in their point guard roles, with Fultz posting a plus-13 BPM in 23 minutes and Simmons finishing with nine points, five assists, five rebounds and five steals.
Philadelphia moves to 6-4 on the season and travels to Brooklyn tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. to face the 3-6 Nets.