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Pistons vs. Sixers preview: Pistons look to upset Sixers as they prep for playoffs

The Sixers are not quite the juggernaut they hoped they’d be after the James Harden trade

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are coming off of two demoralizing losses against the two bellwethers in the NBA. The new-look Philly squad led by MVP candidate Joel Embiid and James Harden had contests against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the best team so far this season in the Phoenix Suns. They lost to the Suns because James Harden was a no-show and nobody could slow down Devin Booker. They lost to the Bucks because the supporting cast is now so depleted, nobody could help Harden and Embiid eke out a win. Oh, and Giannis went for a casual 40 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks.

The Sixers are looking to feast on easier prey today and the Detroit Pistons are looking to play spoiler. Cade Cunningham injured his tailbone against the Brooklyn Nets, but he managed to tie a career-high with 34 points including 29 in the second half. A few more performances like that against marquee teams and Cade might have a sliver of a chance of actually getting into the Rookie of the Year race alongside Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit Extra
Odds: Pistons +10 per Draft Kings

Analysis

Cory Joseph is questionable with a lower back strain so that means Killian Hayes will likely once again find himself in the starting lineup. Saben Lee and Isaiah Livers will also likely be with the team and available to play. While Cade stole the show against the Nets, Hayes actually had one of his more solid outings. He had 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting and played his usual stellar defense to the tune of four steals and a block.

Isaiah Stewart is coming off a double-double in that Nets game, and he has looked much more aggressive looking for his shot and attacking the rim of late. He’s likely to once again start alongside Marvin Bagley III who has certainly shown enough in his limited time with the team that it would be surprising if the Pistons and Bagley didn’t come to terms on a new long-term deal this offseason.

Frank Jackson also played his third game after an extended absence, and he looked much more like himself. He scored 11 points mostly by attacking in transition and trying to get to the rim. His 3-point shot still isn’t back (just 1-of-9 since his return), but it’s good to see he has his legs under him enough to go into attack mode.

For the Sixers, it’s really just the Embiid and Harden show and a hope and a prayer that someone else shows up on any given night to put them over the top. If I was a Sixers fan, I would be sweating bullets over the impending $200 million deal the team is about to give to Harden. But the real problem for this season is that Philly traded away all their depth to get him.

Sure, on the surface most people viewed it as trading away a player who was a zero in Ben Simmons in exchange for Harden. But in reality, the Sixers had to give up Andre Drummond and Seth Curry as well, and those two pieces are sorely missed.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (20-56)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart

Philadelphia 76ers (46-29)

Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Maatisse Thybulle, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid

Question of the Day

When was the last time a rookie class was this good?

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