The Sixers’ quest for an 82-0 season is still alive, as they fought tooth and nail for a 117-111 win over the Detroit Pistons.
In a game without Joel Embiid, fans would get to see exactly how Brett Brown would play the rest of his roster and who would benefit most from the opening in minutes. Matisse Thybulle drew the start with Tobias Harris and Al Horford both shifting up in the lineup a spot.
This was a sloppy game on both sides from the very start, and it was evident that the Sixers missed their All-Star center. Things eventually settled down because of how capable the team is defensively, but the offense had no rhythm for most of the night. Thankfully, the Pistons matched the Sixers’ sloppiness all night, actually turning the ball over one more time than Philadelphia (23-22). Regardless of the Sixers’ ability to force these turnovers, this is something they need to work on offense, as they can’t rely on the defense to step up like this every night.
Tobias Harris was the hero of tonight’s game, stepping up on offense when no one else would. Finishing the game with 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting and 4-of-6 from deep, Harris was the player tasked with taking some of the bigger shots, succeeding time and time again, mainly in the third quarter. For as passive as he looked in the opener against the Celtics, he looked way more involved and willing to pull the trigger tonight.
Superstar Ben Simmons showed that potential once again tonight, battling foul trouble and still finding ways to be effective. Picking up his fourth foul just seconds into the second half took him out of the game plan for a solid chunk of time, but when he was called upon, he made sure to make plays. Finishing the game with 13 points and 10 assists, Simmons didn’t have that takeover mentality on offense that he has shown in the past, but still was able to have his fingerprints all over the game, as shown by his career-high seven steals.
Mike Scott was questionable to even suit up tonight, but he gutted through an ankle injury to be the team’s most effective bench player. On a night when most of the team struggled shooting 3s, Scott was a huge positive, going 5-of-6 from deep on his way to 17 points.
Finally, Al Horford did exactly what Al Horford always does, makes plays and acts as the smartest player on the court. He’s never flashy but is always consistent, making plenty of big shots in the fourth quarter to put away the Pistons. His 23 points were second on the team tonight, proving he can put up big numbers and fill in admirably for Embiid when needed.
It wasn’t a pretty win by any stretch of the imagination, but the Sixers pulled it off, something that probably wouldn’t have been the case the past few years. Next up is a matchup against the Hawks in Atlanta Monday night.