The Sixers were beautiful last night. That goes for their new City Edition uniforms and their play on the court. A home win against a legit playoff team in the Bulls where they were in control most of the way? Give in to the energy radiating from this fun squad. It’s only November, but it’s reasonable to be amped for a 6-2 team.
Tonight’s game in Detroit closes the Sixers’ first back-to-back set of the season. The way the Sixers handled Joel Embiid’s rest earlier in the week, sitting him at home on Monday against Portland, I would assume Embiid gets the nod once again against the 1-6 Pistons, but, hey, ya never know with this organization!
Here are three noteworthy bits ahead of tonight’s Sixers-Pistons matchup:
- #NIANGANG: What a start for the Sixers’ newest forward! Through the first eight games of the season (small-sample size alert), Niang is playing as good as any stretch big in the Embiid era, rivaling what we saw on Ersan Ilyasova and Dario Saric’s best days. With Tobias Harris out due to health and safety protocols the last two games, Niang has shined at the four, coming off the bench, but playing starter-caliber minutes. He’s dropped 21 and 18, respectively, this week while making 41.2 percent of his threes (17 attempts).
Keep firing away, man!
- How great has Seth Curry been this week? Leading the Sixers with 22 points in their W over Chicago, Curry’s offensive arsenal has felt more diverse through this young season.
He’s taken more shots from inside the arc than from deep, a slight inverse from 2020. There were times last season, when he was operating from a more off-ball role, that I would see Curry “settle” for mid-range jumpers instead of threes and I would get a little pissed. He’s one of the most efficient three-point shooters ever! This season though, playing with the ball in his hand more with Ben Simmons being out, I’ve become increasingly okay with those shots. A team’s lead ball-handler needs to initiate offense by any means possible. Mid-range jumpers are bad when lower-tier role players are taking them. In this case, when it’s a star-level shooter like Curry killing opponents with them in crunch time? It’s the exact type of “get a bucket” offense the Sixers have not had since Jimmy Butler. As long as they’re going in at this rate, let them fly, Seth!
- Though he’s missed some games to kick off his rookie season, I’m assuming 2021 first-overall pick Cade Cunningham will be out there tonight for Detroit. Cunningham’s numbers through two games have been flat-out bad, but that’s obviously irrelevant to the grand scheme of his career. His talent is so intriguing. He shares the backcourt with second-year point guard Killian Hayes. Cunningham’s listed at 6-foot-8, while Hayes is listed at 6-foot-5. They have a HUGE size advantage against Curry and Tyrese Maxey. With Matisse Thybulle starting last night given the Harris and Denny Green absences, I’d imagine the Sixers throw Thybulle against Cunningham and/or Hayes frequently. They could use yet another elite defensive performance from him, as Thybulle continues to make a case for a First-Team All-Defensive selection.
Still, I’m really hoping for a strong defensive performance from Maxey. Even the staunchest Maxey supporters can admit that he struggled consistently on D as a rookie, but his performances against Trae Young last Saturday and the Blazers’ duo of guards on Monday were super encouraging. Playing next to Curry and Furkan Korkmaz is a rough draw, but more strides from Maxey on the defensive side of the ball would be huge.