The Pistons couldn’t recover after trailing by 21 tonight, falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 97-86. Detroit came out flat on both ends in the first half, scoring only 43 points in the first half (and needing a quick 6-0 run from Langston Galloway to even make it to that total) while allowing 57 points to a Philadelphia team that came out hungry.
Reggie Jackson led the way for the Pistons with 16 points and seven assists, and Andre Drummond had 14 points, 14 rebounds, and a block.
Fans came for the Joel Embiid - Andre Drummond matchup, and one of those guys didn’t disappoint. Embiid scored 30 points, was a game-high +21, and generally looked like the destroyer of worlds he can be when healthy. Ben Simmons also became the answer to a trivia question with the first triple-double in Little Caesars Arena, going for 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists.
In the first half, the offense just wasn’t there for the Pistons. Tobias Harris, who had been red-hot, started the game one of five from the floor, and finished with 11 points on 16 shots. Stanley Johnson bricked a wide-open three off the side of the backboard. Embiid, Simmons, and Robert Covington used their length to cut off driving lanes and swallow up the screening actions Avery Bradley relies on. Then, on the other end of the court, Joel Embiid had his way with Andre in the post and out on the perimeter, while the Pistons allowed Simmons to drive to his left and make plays.
Detroit came out more active defensively in the second half, trapping Simmons and fronting Embiid to deny him post passes, which worked better than in the first half. The Pistons opened the fourth quarter down eight, quickly closed it to five with Embiid off the court, and then never got it inside a one-possession game once Embiid hit the floor.
Couple notes and observations:
- Philly would run out big lineups with Simmons as the PG, then put Covington on Reggie to stifle penetration and slow the offense. Philly’s one of the few teams who can get away with that - Simmons’ ballhandling and vision lets them not have what we’d think of as a point guard on the floor.
- Conversely, it was... concerning that Stan Van Gundy turned to Anthony Tolliver to guard Simmons in crunch time. Stan has now turned to Tolliver to guard Simmons and Kristaps Porzingis in back-to-back games. Jon Leuer is supposed to be the guy who can handle those assignments, but when he guarded Simmons, this happened:
That is... sub-optimal.
- The floor at LCA was wet... often. Lots of guys slipping - the baseline drying crew earned their pay tonight.
The Pistons will try to bounce back Wednesday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.