The Pistons schedule is a bit weird this year. They played their second game against the Utah Jazz last night, but they will be facing the Philadelphia 76ers for the first time this season tonight. It seems like every season the Pistons have an early-season game against the 76ers, but not this year.
The 76ers haven’t quite been at the level they were at last season, but they have always been a tough matchup for the Pistons and I expect that to still be the case tonight.
Where: Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA
When: Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+11.5)
As has been the case for years, the Philadelphia 76ers live and die by Joel Embiid, and more times than not they are thriving because of his play. He finds himself firmly in the MVP conversation once again as one of the best two way players in the league.
He is averaging a career-high 33 points, but he is only averaging 9.9 rebounds per game, which is the lowest since his rookie season. However, when you are taking on as much of a scoring load as he is while also anchoring the defense, some of your numbers fight be affected.
Joel Embiid is always a tough matchup for the Pistons, but it could be a nightmare matchup for Jalen Duren, who has been fantastic the last few games, but has also struggled with fouling as any young big man does. Joel Embiid is averaging 12 free throw attempts per game this season, and I would expect that to be even higher tonight. Embiid is one of the best in the league at drawing fouls and given that his game is mostly focused on the inside, it could be a long night for Jalen Duren.
If you somehow find a way to slow down Joel Embiid, you also have to deal with James Harden, another player who thrives at getting to the line and is one of the most gifted scorers in the NBA. He may not be Houston James Harden, but he is still a high-end scorer and creator.
One thing going in the Pistons’ favor is that the Sixers will be without Tyrese Maxey. He had a breakout season last year in his 2nd season in the league, and was even better this season before fracturing his foot. It sounds like he is close to returning, but that probably won’t happen tonight.
Even without Maxey, the 76ers are going to be a lot to handle for the Pistons, who are coming off a blowout loss to the Utah Jazz last night. As per usual, their defense was not good last and I am scared to think of what a team like the 76ers can do to such porous defense.
I don’t think there is a favorable matchup for the Pistons at any spot in their lineup, as even Tobias Harris can hang with Bojan Bogdanovic as a scorer. The weak point of the Sixers is their bench, so the Pistons bench, who has been one of the best in the league over the past month, will have to keep them in this game. But the game could already be out of hand by the time they enter the game.
Winning this game will be a tall task and we have already seen what high end scorers are able to do to the Pistons defense when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both single-handedly willed the Brooklyn Nets to a win on Sunday over the Pistons.
Detroit Pistons (8-25): Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
Philadelphia 76ers (17-12): James Harden, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Joel Embiid
Will the Pistons have to break out Nerlens Noel due to big man foul trouble in this game?