Preview: Philadelphia 76ers @ Detroit Pistons

Jan 25, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts to winning 95-92 over the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2016; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts to winning 95-92 over the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers want to bring their ‘A’ game against the Detroit Pistons in seek of consecutive wins.

Jan 27, 2016 – Philadelphia 76ers (7-39) @ Detroit Pistons (24-21), 07:30pm, The Palace at Auburn Hills

After sweeping the season series against the Phoenix Suns, the Philadelphia 76ers look to continue rolling against the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons are coming into this game with an extra day of rest to their advantage, with their last game a win against the Utah Jazz.

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Stan Van Gundy has built his upstart team in the mold of his Orlando Magic days, where he has one athletically dominant big man (Dwight Howard with the Magic/Andre Drummond with the Pistons) executing the pick & roll with a player who excels in that type of play (Hedo Turkoglu/Reggie Jackson), surrounded by excellent shooters. It also helps the Pistons that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has grown into himself on the NBA level and gives dogged defense with outside shooting.

The changes that Van Gundy enacted turned the Pistons from an also-ran last season into a playoff team. On top of that Brandon Jennings is still working his way back into the lineup after suffering a season ending injury last season. The more this team gets along, the more dangerous they become.

Philadelphia has been enjoying recent success of their own, winning 4 out of their last 10 games, a surprising turnaround after losing 18 and 12 in a row during the first half of the season. Much has been made of Ish Smith‘s emergence for the team, which is well deserved especially since he was the key piece on getting the entire team running.

Prior to the trade, the only Sixer who was playing with any confidence was Jahlil Okafor. As the bigman with refined post moves even against men a decade older than he is, Jah put the team on his back constantly to keep his team in games. Unfortunately the lack of ball movement and penetration from anyone meant that he was the only Sixer able to create shots.

Everything turned around when Ish came and almost like a light switch, he activated the dormant offense. Isaiah Canaan moved to his more natural off-guard position, Robert Covington found more space to shoot, Jerami Grant cut to open spaces from penetration, Nerlens Noel caught lobs, and fans flocked back to Sauce Castillo island (Nik Stauskas, for those of you who missed out).

And here we are, a team on the upswing realizing their potential.

What To Watch For

The game hinges on the matchup between Nerlens Noel and Andre Drummond. There will be plenty of pick and rolls against the Sixers tonight and, while Noel can guard Reggie outside, a mismatch appears against Drummond. To counter this, I imagine Coach Brown telling his guards to go under screen, making Reggie shoot since his field goal percentage is less than 44 percent overall.

This means Nerlens will be on an island against the overpowering Drummond. Noel must use his agility to prevent Drummond from getting deep position and from using his power.

Plus, we know that Noel has done it before.

Final Take

Detroit has not been a model of consistency lately, going 5-5 in their last 10 games. While it’s clear that this team has talent, their main players are inexperienced and need to learn consistency to take themselves to the next level. They hope to use the Sixers as a springboard for that.

The Sixers face much of the same issues though cohesion and talent are also clear differentiators between the two teams. Injuries have derailed much of the time the team has had together, with Jahlil missing tonight’s game due to illness. The players are so young on the Philly squad that the team should get better as they play more games, so look for better things ahead for this team.

Next: Sixers Should Not Trade Jahlil Okafor

Prediction – Weary from the travel, the Sixers run out of gas late and come up just short of victory. Brett Brown then praises the team’s effort, but then reminds reporters that they must now turn their attention to the next game against the Golden State Warriors. Should be a good one!

Where To Catch The Game

  • Watch it! – CSNPhilly is broadcasting the game
  • Hear it! – 97.5 has the game on the radio
  • Stream it! – NBA League Pass is available for anyone out of market