Opponent Scouting: Philadelphia 76ers. (2-1)
Tonight at 7:00 pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Philadelphia 76ers at the LCA for their 3rd game of the season. Both teams are on two days of rest, the Pistons having beaten the Bulls on Saturday and the Sixers having beaten the Magic.
The Sixers have a lot of young talent and tons of defensive ability. Supposedly Ben Simmons is going to be out tonight though, which will require extra minutes from Markelle Fultz and also extra work for Joel Embiid.
Embiid is of course a beast. His defensive abilities are utterly absurd and is probably the only big man in the world in the same class as Rudy Gobert. Offensively Embiid's abilities are still in need of some polish but he's been great through three games, scoring 28.3 points per game on a true shooting percentage of nearly 60%.
If Simmons is out, then beyond Embiid it is mostly a collection of role-players, some very good ones, but still role players. Markelle Fultz still has tons of promise (on both ends) but he has struggled so far which is predictable, young point guards almost always struggle. Robert Covington is a high-level three and D guy who is especially effective at the defense part. Dario Saric remains a swiss-army knife of shot creation, shooting, passing, and rebounding. J.J. Reddick is still awesome and one of the best shooters alive.
Landry Shamet is getting playing time early on as a guard and he's shot poorly. T.J. McConnell is a good passer who does all the scrappy play-hard white guy stuff. Amir Johnson is still kicking around here but he isn't all that good anymore, although still a viable backup.
This team still has some serious questions with offensive ability and fit, but they are awesome on defense and should have enough guys who can make plays to score enough points.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Embiid: I mean, what else could take the top spot here? Embiid and Drummond are not fans of each other, both are freak athletes, and will go at each other in a big way. Given Drummond's foul troubles in the first two games though, I'm not feeling so great about this matchup.
Pistons vs. Containing Reddick: Reddick is currently second on the team in scoring at 19 per game and 3rd place is Covington at 13.3. They use Reddick a ton and the Pistons will have to be ready for him.
Pistons vs. Offensive coherence: Even though the “Blake go score” offense has been mostly successful in the first two games, that is clearly not the way the Pistons should do offense all season especially considering Blake's injury problems. Showing something else of real use in this game would be big.
Andre vs. Foul trouble: Touched on a bit above but man, he's got to stay on the floor. I don't even want to think about what Embiid would do to Zaza, although Zaza might just injury him which would work out well for the Pistons I suppose.
Pistons vs. Defending even a little bit: The Pistons defense has been awful in the first two games from every aspect. They are allowing penetration with comical ease, that has to stop.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre > Embiid.
Blake is smashing everything in sight still.
The Pistons have a stretch of good offense that isn't just Blake being incredible.
Run for the hills if:
Drummond gets into foul trouble.
Blake starts missing shots.
JJ Reddick gets hot.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has his best game of the young season.
Blake Griffin misses all his threes.
Reggie Jackson busts out with a 30 point game.
The Pistons ride Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond on a night where Blake is off to a close win.
Pistons 108 – Sixers 106.
What do you think? Can Blake keep up his pace? Can they contain Embiid?