Opponent Scouting: Philadelphia 76ers. (17-9)
Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to the LCA in Detroit. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Bucks on Wednesday, while the Sixers are also on one day of rest after losing to the Raptors.
The Pistons have already played the Sixers twice, and they will do it again right away so both teams will only see an early-season version of each other.
The Sixers are still good, they have the 11th best offense in the NBA by scoring 108.5 points per 100 possessions and the 10th best defense (one spot behind the Pistons) by allowing 106.8 points per 100 possessions.
The Sixers are led by Academy Award winning actor Joel Embiid, The big man is averaging 26.3 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game. Embiid is one of the most destructive defenders I’ve ever seen in my lifetime and while his offense is overly reliant on getting to the line, he gets there so much that it may not matter. New arrival Jimmy Butler has not exactly thrived but he’s done well, boosted by shooting nearly 50% from deep as a Sixer. Ben Simmons still can’t shoot at all but he’s a destructive defender, great ball-handler and passer, and is so athletic and skilled as a finisher that he can still score.
JJ Reddick is still here dropping bombs from all over the court. Wilson Chandler is a shell of his former self but he can still fill in as the 5th guy, probably. Mike Muscala is a uninteresting white guy bit who has some decent big-man skills but nothing remarkable. TJ McConnell is the YMCA all-star and Furkan Korkmaz has a funny name.
The Sixers changed fundamentally when Butler arrived. The pieces don’t fit as cleanly, they miss Covington’s defense and shooting. But Butler is probably good enough for that all to be worth while.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Embiid: This matchup has never been as one-sided as many want you to believe on account of that no one seems to mention that Drummond is one of the only guys in the NBA who takes Embiid on an island. Last time out it was as lopsided as they say. Should be fun.
Stanley Johnson vs. Which one: Johnson is, by far, the Pistons best option against both Simmons and Butler. Which one he goes against will be interesting and he must perform.
Pistons vs. The one Stanley doesn’t guard: I have faith Stanley will hold up his end of the bargain. I have very little faith the Pistons will be able to contain whichever one of Simmons and Butler that Johnson doesn’t guard.
Pistons vs. Righting the ship: 4th straight really tough game. If the Pistons can get a win in this game, especially considering how much trouble the Sixers have given them in the past, it would kill a lot of the dumb takes for a while.
Pistons bench vs. Survival: One of the wings will be pulled into the starting lineup with Bullock out, and now Ish Smith is out. Especially if Luke Kennard is not 100% still, it is going to be a big challenge for the Pistons bench to stay afloat.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin has a repeat performance.
Andre is playing smart and watching Embiid brick jumpers.
Stanely Johnson is playing miles off of Ben Simmons and has “shoot a 3 you coward” written on his shoes.
Run for the hills if:
Drummond has 3 fouls in the first 2 minutes of the game.
The Pistons really are entering a legit slide.
Jimmy Butler is too good for the non-Stanley defender.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Blake Griffin scores 30.
Reggie Jackson plays well.
Joel Embiid gets his numbers but Drummond doesn’t foul out.
The Sixers struggle to find offensive rhythm, Blake Griffin is too good.
Pistons 113 - Sixers 108.