Philadelphia has had a tough last two matchups after falling in close games against both NBA finalists last season in the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns. The Sixers have a great opportunity to get a bounce-back win as they face the Detroit Pistons with the season winding down. There are only seven remaining games for the Sixers, but two of them will face off against the Pistons, with tonight’s matchup being the first.
Who are the Detroit Pistons?
When in need of a victory, Detroit is a pretty good place to go. The Pistons are tied with the Rockets and Magic for the worst record in the NBA at 20-56. The 26.3% win percentage is somewhat discouraging as the franchise remains in a state of rebuilding with a top pick on the way soon.
The player to watch for the Pistons is last season’s number one overall pick, Cade Cuningham, who is averaging 17.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. The 20-year-old has the early looks of a star in his rookie season, highlighted by his advanced composure.
Villanova product Saddiq Bey has also impressed this season. The former 19th overall pick is averaging 16.3 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 34.6% from three. The Pistons have an extremely youthful team that is getting plenty of time to develop. Former Sixers and Pistons leading scorer Jerami Grant recently picked up a calf injury and has been ruled out for the year. This opens up even more minutes for the young nucleus to develop.
Old School Load Management?
It is the time of year when rest becomes so important and teams, so it is always important to keep an eye out for load management days at this stage in the season. 29 of the Pistons’ 56 losses have been by 10 or more points this season. This could be a chance to secure the win early and tap into some “old school load management” by giving the bench unit extended minutes. Given the previous two losses and with two back-to-back still to come, this is a game that it appears pretty certain that Joel Embiid and James Harden will play. The Sixers are listed as 10 point favorites for the matchup.
- Jerami Grant- OUT (calf)
- Chris Smith- OUT (knee)
- Hamidou Diallo- OUT (finger)
- Corey Josep- Questionable (back)
Eastern Conference Standings
While the number of games left to play is decreasing quickly, there is still plenty to be decided on in the standings. The Sixers currently sit in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and are 2 games back of the first-place Miami Heat. The Celtics are tied with the Sixers, yet Boston has played two additional games, and the Bucks sit just one game ahead of both teams in second place.
Truthfully there is too much made about where the Sixers will end in the standings. The lower end of the conference is also in a tight race, so it is difficult to project what any postseason matchup will be at this point. The most important storyline to watch for the Sixers is the continued growth in chemistry between Joel Embiid and James Harden and the battle for the bench rotation which is currently being fought. The Sixers have had a tendency to play down to their opponents in the past, but tonight is a great opportunity to pick up a statement win and get back on track.
Philadelphia/Detroit Betting Lines
Per Draft Kings, Philadelphia is the favorite to win tonight’s matchup.
- Spread: Philadephia -9.5
- Philadelphia Moneyline: -475
- Detroit Moneyline: +350
- O/U: 223.5