Five games remain in the 2017-18 regular season and the Philadelphia 76ers are in a prime position to secure home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They are currently riding the franchise’s longest winning streak – 11 games – since 1990 and have continued the strong performances without Joel Embiid.
The Sixers travel to Detroit on Wednesday night to face a Pistons team that is on the brink of elimination. Stan Van Gundy’s team has won five consecutive games but one more loss would officially knock them out of the playoff race.
The 76ers have won all three games against Detroit this season, including a 114-78 victory in the last meeting with the Pistons. Philadelphia held its opponents to just 32 points in the first half and 38.5 percent shooting for the game. Andre Drummond finished with just 10 points and 8 rebounds in a rare non-double-double game for the All-Star. (He has failed to reach double figures in rebounds just five times this season.)
Both rosters have come a long way since that game – TLC was Philly’s leading bench scorer in that game – but Wednesday’s game will be missing some of the star power. Embiid and Dario Saric will remain out of the lineup for the 76ers while Blake Griffin will be unavailable for the Pistons. However, the missing players have not had a large effect on either team over the last few days.
Ben Simmons has stepped up in the absence of Embiid for the Sixers. During the four games that the center has missed time in – including the game Embiid was injured in – Simmons is averaging a triple double in just 29.4 minutes per game while shooting 64.4 percent from the floor.
Non-Embiid Sixers getting scary:— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) April 2, 2018
In 801 minutes from Oct. through Jan. the 76ers had the scoring margin of an 18-win team whenever Ben Simmons was on the floor without Embiid.
In 417 minutes in Feb. and March, those same lineups posted the scoring margin of a 56-win team.
In the previous three meetings with the Pistons, Simmons is averaging 15 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. He recorded a triple-double in Detroit back in October that helped the Sixers get their first win of the season.
Ersan Ilyasova is another player that has increased his production while stepping in for an injured teammate. The veteran has scored double digits in three consecutive games as a Sixer for the first time this season. He is expected to be back in the starting lineup for Saric at least one more time.
In Saric’s short absence, Ilyasova has been lights out with his jump shot. He is shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 54.5 percent from beyond the arc over the last two games while averaging 13.5 points and 8 rebounds per game.
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Place: Little Caesar’s Arena, Detroit, MI
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Vegas: -3 Sixers, O/U 216