Sixers Fall to the Pistons in a Showdown Between Star Centers

Jan 27, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) drives the ball to the basket as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) defends during the second quarter of the game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Nerlens Noel (4) drives the ball to the basket as Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond (0) defends during the second quarter of the game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers made the trip to The Palace to face the Detroit Pistons in what was their third game in four nights. Unfortunately, Philly fell to Detroit 110-97.

The story of the game between the Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons was the gritty battle between the both team’s star centers. Nerlens Noel and Andre Drummond went toe-to-toe for much of the game, but it was Drummond’s team that came away victorious.

Noel finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. He shot 9 for 11 from the field, and left fans with their jaws dropped after some impressive dunks. Nerlens used his speed effectively throughout the night, and had his moments against Big Andre. His active hands on defense, and ability to float around the rim were on full display.

It wasn’t all perfect for Noel however. He got banged around a bit down low by Drummond, and failed to keep the NBA’s leading rebounder off the glass late in the game.

Drummond finished with 25 points, and 18 rebounds, and Reggie Jackson dropped 27 of his own. It was clear that Detroit’s star players were not about to lay down against Philadelphia at home.

Philadelphia actually led for a large portion of this game, but towards the end, you could see fatigue start to set in.  It was a back-to-back night with a road trip thrown in, and eventually that seemed to catch up with some of the Sixers’ players. The last 12 minutes of the game were particularly bad for Philly. They got outscored 36-18 and lost all defensive prowess.

Brett Brown took notice of that himself claiming he thought Ish Smith “Got tired” late. He said he contemplated giving TJ McConnell more minutes in the fourth because of it.

Jerami Grant has a career night

Jerami “Gimmie dat sh–” Grant was on fire tonight. He got his offense going early and often, especially in the paint. Grant finished with a career high 21 points, and 8 rebounds, and once again played his best alongside Noel at the PF position. We all knew that Noel and Grant were the best combo for the Sixers defensively in the front court, but their highflying dunks, and high energy levels make for some pretty fun offense too.

Nerlens shines without Okafor once again

The reason Grant and Noel were able to shine as a tandem was because Jahlil Okafor missed another game due to sickness. Noel’s numbers without Okafor in comparison to with him are staggering. He’s so much more comfortable hovering around the paint, not being restricted by Jahlil crowding the low block with post ups. Both men are strictly centers at this point in their careers, and as long as they each lack the ability to cover stretch fours, you won’t see much of them on the court together.

Hollis Thompson’s silent greatness

Hollis Thompson is once again shooting the three at a high clip this year. I continue to wonder why he doesn’t get more minutes over Jakarr Sampson, and Isaiah Canaan considering how bad the Sixers have been at the SG position this year. I can understand playing Sampson for defense, but Thompson gives the Sixers a consistent deep threat from the 2, and could really help the spacing in the starting line up.

Loss seen as a win by some

Not everyone was upset with a loss tonight. There is a growing concern among tanking connoisseurs, and process believers alike that the Sixers are starting to win too many games. At first glance that may seem silly seeing as the Sixers have only managed 7 wins all season…But looking deeper into these claims I found some serious reason for worry.

Before tonights loss the Sixers were 4-6 in their last ten games, and 6-9 in their last 15. That spells problems for Philly because as they trend upwards, all of the teams that are “chasing” them for the leagues worst record are trending downwards fast. Teams like the Phoenix Suns, LA Lakers, Minnesota T-Wolves, and Brooklyn Nets are all 2-8 or worse as of late.

So, where does that put the Sixers at in the standings if all of these teams keep this pace? Applying that Last 10 win percentage to the remaining 35-36 games of the season reveals a surprising result. The Sixers are on track to not battle for the #1 lottery spot, but #3 instead. At this point the Lakers and Nets are on track to finish with a worse record than the (sort of) surging Sixers, and the Suns, and T-Wolves are right with Philly in the 19-21 Win range.

Time will tell if the development, and competitiveness the Sixers are currently experiencing will be worth it, but you’ve got to imagine some fans won’t be too happy if Philly loses out on guys like Ben Simmons, and Brandon Ingram because they wanted to win a few with Ish this year. Those who take that thought into account certainly got their wish with a loss tonight.

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The Sixers have off until Saturday when the NBA champion Golden State Warriors come to town for an early evening game at the center. Make sure you follow The Sixer Sense on Twitter @SixerSense for the latest news, opinions, and updates.