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Pistons vs. Sixers preview: Joel Embiid is playing, and Detroit just played last night — uh oh

Pistons need to shoot, defend and tune out Joel Embiid

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons are mired in a four-game losing streak and now have to go on the road (strike one) on the second night of a back-to-back (strike two) to face a rested Joel Embiid (strike three) and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers. Detroit isn’t going to be able to muddle through and get close to stealing away a victory like they almost did against the Embiid-less Sixers Friday or the practically Anthony Davis-less Pelicans on Sunday. They will need to bring it.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass


The Sixers didn’t need Embiid on Friday — they just needed to rely on the continued fourth-quarter heroics of their latest star Jimmy Butler and count on the fact that Detroit can’t hit an open shot.

Butler delivered with 38 points including 13 in the final quarter. Detroit definitely delivered, shooting just 42 percent overall and nailing just 25 percent of their 3-point attempts.

Detroit has been ravaged by injuries, if ravaged is the correct term for a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth but does have plenty of mismatched parts. Reggie Bullock — the team’s best shooter remains out. Ish Smith — the team’s best point guard at point guardy things also remains out.

Detroit’s hope is that Stanley Johnson, who missed Friday’s Sixers game and Sunday’s Pelicans game can see the floor. The Pistons were sorely missing his defense against Butler on Friday, and as much as we all complain about Johnson’s shortcomings Glenn Robinson III and Bruce Brown have done less than zero from the small forward position in his absence. It’s really quite shocking.

One thing Detroit probably can’t count on this time around is another off shooting night from JJ Redick. On Friday, Redick hit just 5-of-18 shots including 2-of-10 from deep. He still managed to score 18 points thanks to some trips to the strips and added five assists.

Detroit just needs to straight up solve its offense (ha!), and that has to come at the hands of Reggie Jackson. Jackson has been a combination Walking Dead zombie and mopey teen trying to swim in molasses this season.

Jackson sometimes shows flashes when he embraces his own scoring instincts, and while I love a facilitator as much as the next guy, this team’s offense is so bad that seeing Reggie back in the pick-and-roll pounding the air out of the ball trying to get his own might actually be a sight for sore eyes. That’s how bad it’s become.

Defensively, I’m not sure Detroit has much hope against Embiid, but they could use some solid team defense to get a handle on Philly’s point guards, who penetrated into the paint at will against the Pistons on Friday.

Simmons hit 8-of-11 shots and I don’t think one of them came outside the paint. He also added 14 rebounds. TJ McConnnell, who doesn’t actually get the credit he deserves, torched the Pistons for 10 points on 5-of-7.

I’m sure both are licking their chops at the thought of attacking against Jackson and Jose Calderon. Speaking of Calderon my analysis begins and ends here — for the love of God, please just hit a 3-pointer. I’m begging you. End of analysis.

Projected Lineups

Detroit (13-11, 4-5 away)

Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson, Glenn Robinson III, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Philadelphia (18-9, 13-1 home)

Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler, Joel Embiid


What is your ideal starting lineup during these dark days without Reggie Bullock and Ish Smith?