76ers Lose to Lowly Pistons, Drop Third Straight

CHICAGO, IL – FEBRUARY 06: Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (21) waits for the play to set during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on February 6, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia 76ers faced off against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday night at Little Caesars Arena in downtown Detroit. Both the Sixers and the Pistons come in on losing streaks, with the Sixers losing their last two and the Pistons losing their last three. 

Detroit played well all game and fought back from an 8 point deficit in the first half and a 6 point deficit in the second half. Cade Cunningham knifed his way through the Sixers’ defense all night and helped lead the Pistons to a 102-94 victory over the 76ers. The Pistons outscored the Sixers 29-15 in the fourth quarter and just played with more energy the entire night. This is the 76ers’ third loss in a row and probably will end up being the worst loss of the season.

Stagnant Offense

Joel Embiid finished the night with 37 and 15 rebounds, but the offense was very stagnant. There was no movement or motion when Joel Embiid or James Harden had the ball. Tonight’s offense was relegated to Iso-ball and a lot of standing and watching. Detroit played a switching defense, so the Sixers tried to take advantage of it, but it led to a lot of ball watching. Guys would watch Embiid in the post, and they would also watch Harden dribble on the perimeter. 

Harden was 4-15 from the field and 2-9 from three-point range. He also returned to hunting for fouls instead of trying to play through contact and looking at the rim when driving. Since joining the Sixers, he’s been up and down but has played better as of late. The 76ers went away from some of the bread and butter plays tonight, including the pindown handoff for Harden to get him moving and also the simple pick and roll.

Also, it seems like it is hard to get all of the main scorers for the Sixers to play well in one outing. Tobias Harris was struggling when Harden first arrived, and now that he is more comfortable, Tyrese Maxey seems to be struggling a bit. It is the coaching staff’s job to try to get these guys to play with pace and to move the ball. With the playoffs around the corner, they can’t afford to have bad offensive nights like the performance against the Pistons. One night like this in the playoffs can swing the tide of a series.

Where’s the 76ers’ Bench

The 76ers have dealt with inconsistent bench play all year. There have been some good stretches, but there have also been some terrible performances. Against the Pistons, the Sixers’ bench scored 8 points, shooting 3-12 from the field. The only three field goals scored by the bench were from Shake Milton, Georges Niang, and DeAndre Jordan.

Head Coach Doc Rivers didn’t think the bench struggled and thought they didn’t have many opportunities to score due to Harden dominating the ball with the bench on the court. The same theme plagued this team all night, ball watching. Everyone was guilty of it, whether they were a starter or reserve. In the end, the 76ers’ bench was outscored 39-8 and just added to the embarrassing performance overall as a team.

Rookie of the Year?

With the season coming to a close, Pistons’ rookie point guard Cade Cunningham is making a run at the Rookie of the Year trophy. After a slow start to the season, Cunningham has completely turned his season around. Against the Sixers, he was able to do anything he wanted and got to the rim at will. Cunningham ended up with 27 points and was able to manipulate the pick and roll like a veteran. He has climbed up to No. 2 on the NBA Rookie Ladder, and with leading candidate Evan Mobley out with injury, he could swoop in and take Rookie of the Year honors.