Sixers Visit Pistons To Start First Back-to-Back
The Philadelphia 76ers (2-1) begin a two-game road trip on Tuesday night with a stop in Detroit for a match-up against the Pistons (2-0). Both teams are coming off of consecutive victories, with the Sixers defeating the Bulls and Magic while the Pistons have earned close victories over the Bulls and Nets. Philadelphia swept the season series, 4-0, last year.
The game in Detroit will be the Sixers' first of 13 back-to-back sets this season, one less than the 2018-19 campaign. Nine of the 13 back-to-backs will come prior to the All-Star Break. Philadelphia is coming off of a one-point win against an Orlando Magic team that was on the back end of a back-to-back after playing at home the night prior. They started the game hot, and nearly upset the Sixers on the road.
"I think, in general, back-to-backs are a little overrated," said Brett Brown after Monday's practice. "I think teams that play the night before start games in a rhythm."
From a players end, the back-to-back is obviously a tiring experience having to play two nights in a row while having to travel in between. That being said, forward Dario Saric says that back-to-backs have more of an effect as the season progresses.
"I think sometimes, especially in the middle of the season and the end of the season, of course you feel a little bit more tired," Saric noted. "Some shots you normally score or usually feel you have the energy to score, but you are tired from the back-to-back and it makes some shots short."
Saric has started off the season slow, so perhaps a back-to-back will help him get into a rhythm as Brett Brown pointed out after practice on Monday. One guy who hasn't started off the season slowly is Sixers big man Joel Embiid. Through three games, the 7-foot-2 native of Cameroon is averaging 28.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He's also taking care of the ball better to start the year, averaging just 2.3 turnovers through the first three games.
In his last game against the Magic, Embiid finished with an impressive line of 32 points and 10 rebounds, hitting post shots, mid-range fadeaways and three-pointers. Embiid goes against a tough duo of big men in Detroit in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond (probable/flu), but has had success against the Pistons in his career, averaging 26 points and 9.3 rebounds in three games.
The Sixers could be without the services of Ben Simmons, who left the game against Orlando with back tightness. If he misses the game, expect Markelle Fultz to run the team from the point to start with JJ Redick inserted in Simmons' absence.
Over on the Pistons end, Blake Griffin has come out of the gates playing extremely well, despite the quality of teams played to this point. He scored 26 points against Brooklyn and 33 in a double-double effort against Chicago and is shooting 50 percent from the floor. He's also hit six of eight from beyond the arc. Former Sixer Ish Smith scored 15 points in Detroit's victory over the Bulls, including the go-ahead basket down the stretch.
"Ish is unbelievable," Griffin told ESPN. "He just does so many things that are huge for our team. I think the team recognizes that, but I hope everybody else does, too."
Smith is averaging 13 points and four assists off the bench for the Pistons, who run a lot of two point guard sets with him and Reggie Jackson, who scored 18 against Chicago.
Sixers: Ben Simmons*, Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
- Injuries: Mike Muscala (ankle) is questionable. Ben Simmons (back) is doubtful. Jerryd Bayless (knee), Wilson Chandler (hamstring) and Zhaire Smith (foot) are out.
Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Reggie Bullock, Stanley Johnson, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
- Injuries: Andre Drummond (flu) is probable.
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA TV
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic
Stream: NBC Sports Philadelphia website, NBC Sports app