The Sixers (44-35) hosted the Detroit Pistons (13-65) on Tuesday. Philadelphia wanted to keep pace in the battle for the six-seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Detroit wanted to play spoiler to the Sixers' playoff seeding goals. Joel Embiid went for 37 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists to power the Sixers in a 120-102 victory.

Before we get to the game, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Pistons were without the services of Cade Cunningham, who is managing a left knee injury.

Isaiah Stewart has a strained right hamstring and was out. Quentin Grimes has a right knee contusion and was not available. Ausar Thompson missed the game with an illness.

Simone Fontecchio has a left great toe contusion and was out. Stanley Umude has a fractured right ankle and was not available.

Tosan Evbuomwan is on a two-way assignment with Detroit's G League affiliate and was out.

Monty Williams started Jaden Ivey, Marcus Sasser, Troy Brown Jr., Chimezie Metu, and Jalen Duren.

The Sixers were without the services of Tyrese Maxey, who is managing a tight left hip.

Kyle Lowry missed the game with left knee effusion.

Robert Covington remained out with a bone bruise in his left knee.

De'Anthony Melton made his return and was available off the Sixers' bench.

Nick Nurse started Cam Payne, Kelly Oubre Jr., Tobias Harris, Nico Batum, and Embiid.


- The Sixers could not find the hand-warmers at the start of this game, but there was no real threat given that the Pistons are awful and Philadelphia's offensive processes were good. You could tell it wasn't a matter of coasting through the motions against a terrible team on a Tuesday night in April. The Sixers had zip on offense, making the extra pass over and over again and moving off the ball with awareness for how Detroit guarded on the move.

Philadelphia did an excellent job of reading overplays and cutting backdoor, and an even better job of acting on those cuts with great passes. The importance of this game to the Sixers' standing in the East aside, Philadelphia executed with the right intention and purpose against a really bad team (did I mention the Pistons are bad?). That maturity is usually a sign of legitimacy as a contender and strong coaching.

- To the point about spotting and acting upon cutters, I thought Embiid mostly toyed with the Pistons when going for his own scores. He knew he could sleep-walk through a dominant scoring night against this group. But, he picked the Pistons apart with his passing out of the high post.

Embiid treated the game like his own personal All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge, threading the needle to teammates who beat their defenders to spots and leaked to the basket in search of passes. He also had eyes for the perimeter, keeping the ball high when Detroit sent the additional layer of pressure and finding the teammate who had the open three.

One game against a team that could very well be checked out doesn't suggest anything of Embiid's abilities in the postseason or his team's prospects of making a deep run, but it was the best court vision Embiid has shown in the four games he's played since returning from the knee injury.

- When the Sixers were at their best in this game, they knew exactly where to go, what to run, and how many passes they would get out of the action before finding the wide-open shot. Even as the Pistons took advantage of a sleepy transition defense, you could see Embiid, Batum, or someone else calling out the action, everyone getting into the right spots, and the catalysts timing the execution with urgency. The Sixers made an effort to work the ball, testing Detroit's rotations around the court and generating great looks against their mistakes.

- Melton's minutes were understandably limited, but I was impressed by how clean his footwork was on offense. He curled into shots with his inside foot down first and swung the outside foot around to square to the basket, and had a nice reverse pivot and spin in the lane for a finish early in the fourth quarter.


- I thought Embiid was a little jumper happy when he did try to score, especially from three. This game had a massive margin of error and he did make four of his nine attempts, but every triple Embiid takes is one midrange jumper he doesn't take. His midrange jumper is one of the most efficient shots in the whole league; taking nine threes is telegraphing that you're messing around.

- The Sixers were only ever really challenged in the third quarter, and it was because they were missing everything and not getting back on defense. Don't play with your meat, as Doc Rivers once said.

The Sixers (45-35) will host the Orlando Magic (46-32) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

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