Coming off a win over the Clippers Thursday night, the Sixers remain at home to take on Detroit in a rare Saturday matinee contest. The Pistons started out the season hot, winning their first four games, but have since dropped their last three contests, most recently an overtime affair in Brooklyn Wednesday night.
Of course, one of those four wins came against Philadelphia, a 133-132 overtime victory for the Pistons, with Blake Griffin scoring a career-high 50 points and winning the game on a three-point play with 1.8 seconds remaining. Three differing factors play in the Sixers’ favor this time around, however.
- The game is in Philadelphia rather than Detroit. The Sixers are 5-0 at the Wells Fargo Center and 0-4 elsewhere this season, the only team in the league both undefeated at home and winless on the road.
- Ben Simmons did not play in the prior meeting due to a sore back. Simmons would seem to be the perfect player to defend Griffin. He stands equally tall to the Pistons forward at 6’10”, and is certainly capable of dealing with Blake’s playmaking ability, having become accustomed to guarding smaller, shiftier defenders. I expect a lot of Simmons on Griffin, with much better results for the Sixers in this rematch.
- Wilson Chandler is expected to make his Sixers debut coming off a hamstring injury, having practiced with the team on Friday. Chandler projects as one of the handful of guys on the roster capable of both stretching the floor and offering switchability on defense. His ability to play minutes at the four could be even more useful given Dario Saric’s epic slump to start the season.
One thing that should stay the same is the animosity between the two starting centers, as we’ll witness another chapter in the Joel Embiid-Andre Drummond saga. You might have heard about how Embiid owns real estate in the Pistons center’s head. After waving goodbye to him in 2017, Joel flopped and got Drummond ejected in the team’s first meeting this season; Embiid was issued a flopping warning by the league after the fact.
Condo headspace reserved to Embiid aside, Drummond has been playing well this year. He recorded a whopping 24 points and 23 rebounds last game against the Nets, his third 20-20 game of the season. He also has continued to improve at the free throw line, shooting 62.5% at the charity stripe this season. Needless to say, Embiid is playing some of his best basketball right now following a season-high 41 points against the Clippers. I’m sure we’ll see some more on-court fireworks and social media sniping between these two big men.
Questions to ponder:
- Will Markelle Fultz build upon his most confident performance of the season?
- Who will stand to lose the most playing time with Chandler in the fold? (I would vote for benching Amir Johnson and playing Mike Muscala strictly as a stretch five.)
- I know Embiid bought, but what do you think rent goes for in Drummond’s head? Is it reasonable for a young professional or are we talking a San Francisco-like market getting completely out of hand?
When: 1:00 pm EST
Where: The Center, Philadelphia, PA
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 the Fanatic