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Pistons vs. Sixers preview: Philly fights for third seed in season finale

This is the end

Philadelphia 76ers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers face off in each team’s respective season finales tonight at Wells Fargo Center in Philly. The good news, for those Pistons fans wanting to protect as many lottery balls as possible, is that the Sixers have something to play for in the season’s final game while the Pistons most definitely do not.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia 76ers
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +9.5 per Draft Kings


The Sixers are currently tied for the third seed in the East with the Boston Celtics, but Philly loses the tiebreaker so they have every incentive to get a victory over Detroit tonight and solidify their chance at finishing in the conference’s top three. Boston’s final game is against the Memphis Grizzlies, a team that seemingly does not know how to take a game easy.

Philly would conceivably really want the three seed because it would allow them to play a decidedly struggling Chicago Bulls team and avoid a much hotter Toronto Raptors club. This is compounded by the fact that Philly’s best defensive wing Matisse Thybulle would be ineligible to play in Toronto.

The Sixers will also be looking to ensure that Joel Embiid wins the scoring title with a solid game to bolster the big man’s MVP case against the likes of Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

In three games against Detroit this season, Embiid is averaging 28.7 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 47% from the floor and getting to the charity stripe an average of 13 times.

All that being said, at this moment, Embiid and James Harden are both listed as questionable for tonight’s game so Philly might be looking to steal some rest for their star players.

For the Pistons, a win could see them fall from the third-worst record in the NBA to the fourth. So, as far as maximizing lottery odds go, the Pistons control their own destiny. A loss means they maximize the odds of landing a top-3 pick (40.1%). The most likely scenario, in the era of flatter lottery odds, would be that they pick sixth (26%).

If they fall to the fourth-worst record in the league, their odds for a top-3 pick fall to 36.6%, an 11.5% chance of staying at four, and a 51.9% chance of picking fifth, sixth, or seventh.

Detroit should have the typical complement of players available for tonight’s finale led by rookie of the year candidate Cade Cunningham given one final chance to state his case to grab the award from the playoff-bound Evan Mobely of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto’s Scottie Barnes. This will also be Saddiq Bey’s 152nd consecutive start to begin his NBA career.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (23-58)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart

Philadelphia 76ers (50-31)

Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid

Question of the Game

Will every player projected to start for both teams tonight be on these same teams by opening day next season?

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