What You Need to Know Ahead of Sixers Matchup With Pistons

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 21: Philadelphia Sixers center Joel Embiid (21) and Kansas Alum looks on during the game between the Kansas Jayhawks and the Villanova Wildcats on December 21, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Just two days after the blowout loss to the New York Knicks, the Sixers return to Philadelphia with the hopes to get back on track.

The Sixers are now 2-2 on the year, and this matchup against the Pistons will kick off a four-game homestand. This will be a great opportunity to get back in the win column and relax the fanbase from hitting the panic button fully.

Who are the Detroit Pistons?

The Pistons have yet to secure a win so far this season and are currently 0-3 on the year. The franchise selected Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick in last year’s draft but has not been able to see the 6’8 guard in action due to a sprained ankle he picked up in training camp.

The injury is not considered to be serious, and his return is expected to occur soon. The Oklahoma State product has not officially been ruled out for the Sixers matchup, but there have been no indications that his debut will occur.

Even without Cunningham, the Pistons have a large amount of young talent that will be exciting a few years down the line. Detroit is tied for the third-youngest team in the NBA, with an average age of 24.5. Former Villanova standout, Saddiq Bey, is the team’s current leading scorer with 18 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding with 10.7 per game and also adds 2.7 assists.

After being traded away from the Sixers during the Process years, Jerami Grant has found a home in Detroit and established himself as one of their best players. The forward averaged a career-high 22.3 points per game last season and has hopes to build off it moving forward.

Unfortunately, Grant is battling an infection in his elbow, which held him out of the previous game against the Hawks. The 27-year-old is questionable to play in the matchup with the Sixers, and it would make things much easier for Philadelphia if he is unable to go.

For the moment, the Pistons have a lot of growing to do as they rank last in the league in scoring at 90.5 points per game. They are also ranked dead last in offensive rating and have struggled to get anything going on a consistent basis. While they will likely not end the season as bad as they have looked in the first three games, the Sixers should be expected to have no problem handling this youthful roster.

Joel Embiid’s Status

The million-dollar question will seemingly always be the status of Joel Embiid. He continues to battle a knee injury that is seemingly originating from the meniscus tear last season. While he remains questionable on the injury report, it would be nothing short of malpractice if Joel Embiid suits up for this matchup. Despite obvious discomfort and the need for treatment already this season, Embiid has played in each of the Sixers’ four games so far this season.

While this isn’t a given victory, the Sixers should be able to take care of business without Joel Embiid. Regardless, prioritizing the health of the superstar must be priority number one for the franchise. There is no point in Embiid putting further damage on his body with so much time left to go in the season.

Without their MVP, the Sixers have just about no hope for any significant success this season, and the sooner he can get his body right, the better. While it is respectable for Embiid’s desire to stay on the floor, the Sixers must understand their organizational responsibility to ensure the most long-term success.

Who Needs to Step Up?

Whether Embiid is active or not, the Sixers desperately need a spark from other players. Tyrese Maxey has been thrust into the spotlight as the starting point guard but has yet to fully find his rhythm.

There is plenty of time to find his stride, but if he can put more of an emphasis on creating for others, it would go a large way to taking responsibility off others and making the offense run smoother. On the heels of a disappointing performance where he tallied 7 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds while shooting 3-9 from the field and 0-3 from beyond the arc, expect a bounceback performance from Maxey.

Outside of Maxey, the Sixers still are in search of others to step up. Seth Curry has shot the ball at a ridiculous rate to start the season and is 61.9% from beyond the arc through the first four games. Tobias Harris nearly notched a triple-double in the Knicks game and ended with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Even so, this Sixers team is lacking the necessary zest and identity that has been previously seen. If this game goes according to plan, this is a great chance for guys to hit their stride and show what they can add to this Sixers team.

The Sixers have opened up as 10.5 point favorites, and the game will tip-off at 7:00 PM in Philly.