What we learned from the Sixers’ road win over Pistons

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The 76ers improved to 2-0 on Saturday night, defeating the Detroit Pistons by a score of 117-111. Although not the greatest performance, the team managed to grind out a road win without their best player.

 Top Performers

Tobias Harris: 29 points 10 rebounds 4/6 from three

Ben Simmons: 13 points 10 assists 7 steals (career-high)

Derrick Rose: 31 points 14/21 from the field 

Game Summary

First Half

Similar to the season opener against Boston, both teams in Saturday’s contest started off extremely slow. A combination of missed jumpers, turnovers, sloppy ball handling, and silly fouls resulted in a somewhat ugly start to things.

Despite this, the 76ers found themselves leading by double digits for most of the first quarter. Ben Simmons lead a majority of the charge early on, as he was able to attack the basket with ease against a crippled Pistons defense.

Momentum began to swing as the first quarter concluded and carried right on over into the second. The heavy usage of Furkan Korkmaz in this timeframe absolutely killed the Sixers, as he recorded a game low +/- of -13.

Derrick Rose for the Pistons specifically shined in this stretch for Detroit as well. His impressive offensive capabilities carried his team back down 11 at one point in the second, and he finished the night with a game-high 31 off the bench.

Second Half

The game continued to trend in Detroit’s favor as the second half began, with Simmons picking up his 4th foul just mere seconds into the third quarter. With the star PG forced to the bench, the Pistons were quick to capitalize, stretching their lead all the way up to 13 at one point.

With the game seemingly getting out of hand for Philly, and with no Embiid to call on for some easy buckets, someone had to step up for the 76ers. Who would it be? The new 180 million dollar man himself: Tobias Harris. The small forward/power forward hybrid proceeded to score 13 of the next 15 points for the Sixers, literally dragging the team back into things. 

The game was knotted up at 83 apiece heading into the fourth quarter, and right on cue, the 76ers finally decided to heat it up on the offensive side of things. Shake Milton hit a big three, Al Horford scored 11 straight at one point (including two monster threes), and Ben Simmons was forcing turnovers and dropping dimes left and right. 

The dynamic play from both Horford and Simmons lead to an overall stress-free final minute as the Sixers picked up their second win in as many tries this season. This is the first time the 76ers have started a season 2-0 under Brett Brown since way back in 2013.

Key Takeaways

Joel Embiid

This Philadelphia team is obviously way better with Joel Embiid as opposed to without. Although I predicted Horford to have a big game in Embiid’s absence (which he did: 23 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists), the lack of Embiid’s scoring ability was more than obvious.

Perimeter Shooting

Excluding Mike Scott and Tobias Harris who shot a combined 9/12 from beyond the arc, this team struggles with the deep ball. The rest of the team shot a whopping 18% from three tonight. Not good.

Shake Milton > Furkan Korkmaz

Despite Brett Brown expressing huge faith in Korkmaz prior to the game, Korkmaz had an absolutely terrible night. 0/3 from beyond the arc, 3 personal fouls, and two turnovers is enough to get anyone benched. 

Former G-League standout Shake Milton, on the other hand, provided a big spark off the bench, and even in crunch time. 10 points and 2 threes in just 12 minutes is fantastic production from the young guard.

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