The Detroit Pistons return home from a five-game road trip to play the Philadelphia 76ers for the second time this season. In their initial meeting on Dec. 21, Joel Embiid lead his 76ers to a dominant 113-93 victory over the young Pistons.
Luckily for Detroit, Embiid has been listed out for this afternoon’s clash with a foot injury, missing his third straight game. Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers will also be without the services of Embiid’s front-court running mate PJ Tucker. Tucker will be absent from the team while he recovers from a non-COVID related illness.
Detroit also could be without their starting centeras Jalen Duren’s status remains questionable while he deals with some right ankle soreness. The Pistons big rotation was already undermanned following the recent news of Marvin Bagley’s hand surgery. If Duren is unable to play, 6-foot-8 Isaiah Stewart becomes the lone big on the roster with little-used Nerlens Noel as backup.
When: 3 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5.5
Entering the 2022-2023 campaign, many pegged the 76ers as a top-four team in the conference and amongst the East’s elite.
Adding a pair of defensive-minded players in De’Anthony Melton and PJ Tucker to the star-studded scoring trio of Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey appeared to round out a contending roster.
But, as we approach the halfway mark, Doc Rivers currently has Philadelphia sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 23-15 record. However while the record may seem a tad underwhelming, the Sixers have been playing much better basketball since Dec. 1. After a 12-10 record in October and November, Philly has won 11 of 16 games in December and January.
Since returning from a right foot injury on Dec. 5, James Harden has averaged 22 points and 11 assists. The Beard has done an excellent job of penetrating the paint and finding open shooters on the perimeter. Harden’s passing has generated a number of high quality looks and is one of the catalysts for Philly converting on 38.3% of their outside looks, the third highest percentage in the NBA.
The 76ers have six players in their rotation who shoot 37% or more from distance, with Maxey, Melton and Niang all shooting 40% or more.
Maxey has backed up his sophomore campaign where he shot 42% from three. When he’s been on the court, the Kentucky product has played his best basketball as a pro. In only his third season, Maxey is averaging a career-high 21.4 points. Unfortunately for Philly fans, he’s only played in 19 of the teams 38 games due to a left foot injury suffered in mid-November.
Switching to the opposite end of the floor, the numbers reflect Philly as a top-flight defensive team, with the league’s 4th best defensive rating. However, while the numbers are impressive, the 76ers still lean on Joel Embiid to cover a number of holes defensively. The starting guard duo of Harden and Maxey have a tendency to be turnstiles on the defensive end, leaving Embiid to cover their mistakes.
With Embiid out, Killian Hayes and Jaden Ivey should have additional opportunities to attack the painted area. Hayes and Ivey enter today’s contest fresh off solid outings in San Antonio, scoring 18 and 20 points respectively.
If Duren is unable to suit up this afternoon, expect Saddiq Bey to be inserted back into the starting line-up, alongside Stewart and Bogdanovic in the front-court.
Detroit Pistons (11-31)
Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
Philadelphia 76ers (23-15)
James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, De’Anthony Melton, Tobias Harris, Montrez Harrell
Question of the Day
Who do you think will be the better player long-term out of Tyrese Maxey and Jaden Ivey?