After a satisfying two-game sweep over the rival Celtics, the Sixers head to Detroit tonight to complete the second game of a back-to-back. At the tail end of three games in four days, and given the number of hard falls he took last night, it would not be surprising if tonight is a “load management” rest day for Joel Embiid. If that should be the case, the rest of the Sixers will need to pick up their games to replace the big man averaging 27.3 points per game on a career-best .681 TS%. Helpfully, the Pistons played last night as well, losing 103-102 to the Rockets.
At 3-12, Detroit is struggling in a big way this season, and looks destined for another summer with a high lottery pick. The biggest question these days for the club is whether they can get off Blake Griffin’s contract, with the oft-injured forward making $36.5 million this season, and sporting a sure-to-be-picked-up player option for almost $39 million next season. Pistons fans have not even been able to get much of a look at the team’s seventh overall pick, Killian Hayes, who is out at least eight weeks with a hip injury. Miserable times in the Motor City, indeed.
The lone bright spot for Detroit has been free-agent signing (and former Process Sixer) Jerami Grant. Grant signed a three-year, $60 million deal this past offseason, turning down a similar offer to return to the Denver Nuggets with the promise of an expanded role in Detroit. The 26-year-old forward has flourished as the offensive focal point for the Pistons, averaging 25.1 points per game, while shooting a career-best 39.6 percent from 3 on 6.7 attempts per game. Grant is also averaging a career-high 2.7 assists per game against only 1.5 turnovers, all while featuring the dynamic versatility on the defensive end that any team would love to have. I’d curse Bryan Colangelo’s name even more than I already do for letting Grant slip through the franchise’s fingers, but at least the draft pick received in return became Tyrese Maxey. Thank you, Mike Muscala.
Tonight is a tough spot for the Sixers, and while a win doesn’t tell you anything about this team’s ceiling, every game counts in the standings. These are the types of victories you have to grind out if you want to remain among the upper crust in the Eastern Conference. We’ll see if Ben Simmons can carry over the offensive aggressiveness we saw in last night’s fourth quarter, and if Tobias Harris and Seth Curry can keep making every shot to keep this train chugging along.
Who: Detroit Pistons vs. Philadelphia 76ers
When: 8:00pm ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Philadelphia: Mike Scott - out (knee); Vincent Poirier - out (medical and safety protocol)
Detroit: Killian Hayes - out (hip)