The Philadelphia 76ers head to Detroit to take on the Pistons in their first game of the NBA’s all-new mid-season tournament. The Pistons sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, while the Sixers are in sole possession of first place now, riding a six-game winning streak.
Sixers vs. Pistons Game Info
Who: Philadelphia 76ers (6-1) at Detroit Pistons (2-7)
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Little Caesars Aren, Detroit MI
Watch: NBA League Pass, NBC Sports Philadelphia, Bally Sports Detroit
Sixers vs. Pistons Betting Info
Spread: Sixers -9 | Pistons +9
Moneyline: Sixers -395| Pistons +310
What to look for from the Sixers
The Sixers are going into Detroit riding high on a six-game winning streak, with their most recent win a 106-103 victory over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. The two teams were tied at the top of the Eastern Conference standings until the Sixers fixed that issue. Now, they’re heading over to play the Pistons, who are ranked dead last in the conference. This is the game Doc Rivers would have really had the Sixers play down to.
But it’s a new world with a new coach, and Nick Nurse seems to have this squad, including four newly acquired players, buying into his system and style. The team is playing unselfish basketball, improving on defense, and moving the ball around as a team, something that no one would have seen last season. Nurse seems to be the right guy to handle this team, its stars, and role players and get them on track to move past the section round of the playoffs.
The Sixers have been led until he sits on the bench in the 4th quarter by reigning MVP Joel Embiid. The team, prior to the Celtics game, hadn’t really needed much of Embiid in the late stages of games, as they were doing very well in getting leads up and allowing the center to rest.
When he’s on the court, Embiid has been even more dominant than last year. He’s averaging 31.7 points to go along with 10.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists while upping his blocks to 2.3 per game. He’s also shooting 40% on his three-point attempts. Without the distraction of James Harden needing to touch the ball more than almost everyone in the league, Embiid has embraced a role that has him passing more, with much better movement from the team around him.
Having to deal with Embiid is a lot for any team, but after him, the Sixers have Tyrese Maxey, the star young guard who just doesn’t stop getting better. Maxey is off to his best start and season in his young career. He’s averaging 25.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game while shooting 40.7% on his three-pointers. Maxey has had a couple of poor shooting nights the past few games to drop his percentages, but he’s usually able to correct that, and the Pistons should be just the team to help him.
Beyond the two big names for the Sixers, Tobias Harris has been getting 19.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game quietly. Kelly Oubre Jr. is giving the team 17.4 points and 4.7 rebounds, which has made the Sixers lineup well-balanced offensively as well as much better defensively than in the past. Newcomer Nic Batum has moved right into a top reserve role with the team and is adjusting well, while Robert Covington, Marcus Morris, and KJ Martin have hardly seen the floor. This isn’t a knock against Nurse; rather, it is an observation that the team has been playing well, and their rotation is still being figured out as they go along.
What to look for from the Pistons
Everybody from the 313 put your ********* hands up and follow me.
If you notice, no one put their hands up. There’s less to say about the Pistons this season than Papa Doc said to Eminem in the final battle in “8 Mile”. They’re just not good. Currently, they’re at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, and that’s not going to improve much after tonight. The Pistons have more players hurt than they do healthy.
The list is enough to put together a starting lineup. Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Harris, Monte Morris, and Isaiah Livers are all out with injuries, while second-year player Jaden Ivey will be missing his 4th straight game with what’s only being listed as an “illness”. To put it bluntly, the Pistons are hurting.
Cade Cunningham, I know you. You went to Montverde, that’s a private school.
Cunningham is in his third season with the Pistons, still just 22 years old and having a breakout year, befitting the former first overall pick in the draft. After missing all but 12 games last season due to injury, he’s averaging 24 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 7.1 assists to start the year. While his shooting percentages aren’t that great, he is missing half of his teammates, and upon their return, specifically Ivey and Burks, he should be able to get some better looks. For now, Cunningham is trying to carry almost all of the weight.
With all of the injuries, the Pistons are fighting battles that they cannot win, though they are still fighting. The team is littered with former, high first-round draft picks that are all still quite young.
Jalen Duren, the 13th pick in the 2022 draft, is averaging 13.9 points and 11.6 rebounds on the year. At 6’10” and 250 lbs, he has the size to at least give Embiid something to think about down low.
Isaiah Stewart, the 16th pick in the 2020 draft, is averaging 12.3 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Stewart operates as a small-ball center, but at just 6’8″ and 250 lbs., he’s not going to push Embiid that much on the floor tonight.
One player that the Sixers are going to have to keep an eye on is Ausar Thompson. The 5th overall pick in the most recent draft, Thompson is a 6’6″, 205 lb. forward who is averaging 9.7 rebounds per game to go along with 11.3 points and 1.8 blocks. His shooting percentage is low at 40%, and his three-point percentage is almost non-existent at 16.7%, which doesn’t make for a long-lasting career. What he does do well is shoot 81.8% on his free throws and play defense very well for a rookie. The Sixers can handle the offense of the Pistons, but they may be surprised by Thomspson and Duren on the court.
What we’ll be watching for
The Sixers are looking for their seventh straight win after having their season opener stolen by the officials. They’ve been beating up on teams, and up until the waning moments of the Celtics game, they were beating up on them as well. The Pistons are at the bottom of the conference. They are looking for an identity as well as a qualified physician who may be able to help get half of their team off the injured list.
This is the type of game that the Sixers of seasons past would play down for. Coming off of a big victory over the rival Celtics, having taken over first place in the conference, and looking past the last-place Pistons, the Sixers would find themselves on the losing end of a blowout.
So I’ma turn around wit a great smile, and walk my ass back across 8 Mile
These Sixers? They’re the new look; Nick Nurse led Sixers. They’re moving the ball better than they have in the past several years, they’re playing defense pretty well for a team that’s just getting to know their system and players. The Sixers have the looks of a very good team that’s not even close to being a finished product on the floor and that should be scary for the other teams in the league.
It should be especially dangerous for a team like the Pistons, who at this point seem to be looking for moral victories and bright spots to reflect on after their losses. Tonight shouldn’t be much different. The Sixers are using these games against lesser opponents to integrate the new players as well as to get everyone on the same page in Nurse’s system.