Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will welcome the Philadelphia 76ers to Detroit. The Pistons are on one day of rest after beating the Knicks on Saturday, and the Sixers are also on one days rest after losing to the Raptors.
The Sixers have gotten a bit of a a cold shower to start the year 0-3, but they still have a lot of talent and enough veterans that they could end up winning a decent number of games in the weak Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid should be playing after sitting out their last game since it was a back to back, so he is on a couple days of rest and he is a monster. His offensive numbers have come down to earth a bit so far with 14.5 points and 13.5 rebounds, but that is still a pretty monstrous line for 27.5 minutes. He is also pretty much unquestionably an absolute force on defense.
Ben Simmons is still young and learning, but he looks like the real deal. He is averaging 15.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. He has been almost totally a non-shooter, but for now that is ok. He is huge, athletic, and talented. J.J. Redick is still that white dude who is in constant motion on offense before dropping a three in your face, and Jerryd Bayless is a perfectly capable point guard who can do a little bit of everything. Robert Covington looks to keep up his run of being one of the best 3 and D forwards in the game. Off the bench Dario Saric is a power forward with a goofy mix of ball handling and shooting, he isn't an awesome athlete and has a more herky-jerk style but its pretty effective. Markelle Fultz has a serious problem with his shooting, whatever it is, but he is still a really good athlete and can make some plays. T.J. McConnell is a very good passer and not much else, Amir Johnson is old but still not a terrible big, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot can in, in theory, shoot a bit.
This team is still super young, and while its still early, the amount of hype put on this team was probably very foolish for this year at least. Joel Embiid still hasn't hit a three, Fultz jumper is broken, and Simmons turns it over too much still. They can play, but they have a ways to go.
Matchups to watch:
Andre vs Embiid: Embiid is very huge and very good. He also has a knack for drawing a lot of fouls. Even if Andre plays good defense he could find himself in foul trouble, and Andre is prone to bad fouls on his own. I'm a little worried.
Pistons vs Ben Simmons: Ben Simmons is a matchup nightmare, he has that quality LeBron and now Giannis has where he gets the ball in transition and you just think “A guy that size shouldn't be able to do that”. My guess would be that Stanley will try to check him, but regardless of who, they need to keep him out of the paint as much as possible.
Tobias vs. Covington: Tobias Harris will probably end up with Robert Covington gaurding him for a lot of the night, Covington can really defend and when combined with Embiid's paint presence Tobias will have a tough time scoring tonight.
Embiid vs. 3 pointers: Embiid hasn't hit a three yet, and I'm a little worried. If he is a legit shooter then there is a chance he breaks out in a big way at some point, if he suddenly goes 5 for 5 from deep tonight the Pistons could be in trouble.
Reggie vs Aggressiveness: Bayless isn't a scrub but he is below-average for a starter, and McConnell isn't all that good and Fultz isn't all that good yet. Reggie will have some soft targets to go at, and if Tobias is bottled up then he may have to take on a larger offensive load.
Pistons vs The good vibes: The Pistons had a nice opening week, but tonight looms a bit large as a game they really want to win before they go on a potentially brutal three game stretch of Minnesota, Clippers, and Warriors. (with the Clips and Warriors coming in a back to back) This is a game the Pistons should win.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Embiid is still clanking away from deep.
The Pistons are keeping the Sixers out of transition.
Reggie Jackson is having his way with a weak point guard rotation.
Run for the hills if:
Andre gets into foul trouble, because I don't know who else can guard Embiid.
Ben Simmons is getting into the open floor.
Embiid becomes a wrathrful god raining fire from deep.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Tobias has a quiet night, but Avery Bradley and Reggie Jackson have big ones.
The Pistons bench slaughters the Sixers bench.
Andre avoids foul trouble but in doing so lets Emiid score a lot of points.
Pistons ride Philly mistakes and a strong bench performance to a close victory.
Pistons 97 – Sixers 90.
What do you think? Can Andre avoid foul trouble? Can the Pistons contain Simmons?