The Philadelphia 76ers are in Motown tonight to take on the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are 7-3 in their last 10 games and have pulled into 4th place in the Eastern Conference, yet still have four wins less than the 3rd place Sixers. After being defeated handily by the Toronto Raptors, the Sixers will look to get back on track on the road this evening.
To do that though, the Sixers will have to overcome the absence of their star big man Joel Embiid. Embiid appeared sluggish and ineffective against the Raptors, signaling that he was suffering from fatigue. Brett Brown has apparently received the message, and granted Joel the night off against the Pistons — mostly a good thing. The problem though is that Philly has struggled to deliver 48 strong center minutes even when Embiid does play. Last year’s primary backup Amir Johnson seems to have aged 5 years over one summer, and Mike Muscala is no where near the rim protector Embiid is. Coach Brown will have to get creative to keep the defense afloat.
Blake Griffin has been the driving force behind the Pistons surge up the standings. He’s averaging a career high in points per game (24.9) and usage (30.9%). It will be interesting to see who is most often assigned to guard Griffin. Griffin has a strong all-around game, and so his defender will need to be able to cover him on the perimeter as well as in the post.
In the past, an Embiid rest day brought with it fears of a loss. But nowadays, the Sixers can say that they have Jimmy Butler. With both Butler and Ben Simmons active tonight, the Sixers still have a realistic chance of winning sans Embiid. If the Sixers aren’t able to get by without Embiid, they’ll get another shot to beat the Pistons on Monday in Philadelphia, as the two teams are playing a sort of home-and-home series.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Detroit Pistons
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit MI
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic