The Sixers were able to join their game on Wednesday night against the defending Lakers champion with a series of four-game wins.
They are still first in the Eastern Conference at 12-6, but do not drive as high after a 119-104 defeat on Monday by the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.
Joel Embiid (back tightness) and Derrick Rose (left knee pain) were removed. Mike Scott was left with a swelling in his right knee while Vincent Poirier was out due to health and safety protocols in the NBA.
Scott was called in for a technical foul in the early fourth quarter when he intervened after an exchange of words between Ben Simmons and Josh Jackson, coming off the bench to enter Jackson̵
Head coach Doc Rivers has said he expects Embiid to play on Wednesday, but is still unsure if he will.
“His back is stiff and we obviously want to go through the season with everyone healthy,” Rivers said before the game. “It’s right to do.”
Here are observations of the Sixers’ loss on Monday in Detroit:
Late at the party
While one of Dwight Howard’s biggest strengths was his recovery, the Sixers began grimly in that division. Detroit grabbed 11 of the first 13 fights in the game and jumped to a 26-11 lead.
A bit of luck was included in the extreme early rebound differential, but the Sixers were also slow. Playing Simmons for two fouls before five minutes did not help. He was called up for his third earlier in the second period, prompting Rivers to keep him on the bench for the rest of the first half. Simmons couldn’t get rid of his foul problems by biting Blake Griffin’s fake pump, remaining 7:47 in the third quarter. He finished the game with 11 points, four assists and four rebounds in 21 minutes.
“With the absence of Mike Scott, we just can’t have any nasty problems with Ben and Tobias (Harris) and now we’ve done back-to-back games,” Rivers said. “We missed him that night, but we couldn’t get away without it tonight. Joel on the floor. ”
With all due respect to the Pistons, the Sixers should never be 15 points behind team 3-13 after eight minutes of play, regardless of Embiid’s status, Simmons’ troubles and disagreements over the refereeing (Howard raised another technical foul, as was the case on Saturday) .
“I didn’t think we were ready,” Rivers said. “We weren’t organized in defense. The first game in the game, they got a threesome – a play we worked on. For me, that tells me something about us that I didn’t like. Again, I didn’t. you can bring them back in. It happens, but I thought there were many times in the game where we had a chance to play in it again.
“One thing – and the team needs to know this – when you don’t have Joel or Ben playing or who don’t play and they are your key guys, when you notice Team 14, it’s going to be hard to win that game. I thought tonight was a great example of that. “
Matisse Tiboul’s level of activity stood out from his teammates in the first half as he sniffed around for turnover opportunities and added the energy he needed.
Tony Bradley started the second half in Howard’s place and did well. The 23-year-old recorded 12 points and nine rebounds in the game and stepped up his case for playing time down the road.
The big picture without Embiid
Now the Sixers are 0-4 without Embiid this season.
This record does not mean that the team needs to desperately look for a different backup center solution. Howard is a decent big man from the second half, who did not play the best during the games that Embiid missed. The problem with Howard is that his game naturally doesn’t connect with Simmons like Al Horford’s, as he offers much less in terms of shooting, floor distance and passes. However, it made perfect sense for Sixers basketball president Daryl Moray to invest in a potential deal at the backup center, signing Howard on a minimum veteran contract for the season after the Sixers gave Horford a four-year deal with a guaranteed $ 97 million.
Maybe the Sixers could explore creative interior options, such as more small ball squads in games where Embiid is out, but Simmons at center certainly doesn’t look like a panacea.
If Embiid is not healthy for the playoffs, the Sixers’ chances of winning matches and series are drastically reduced. This is not a great revelation.
We’ve seen, at least in their first nine games together, that the individual components of the Sixers’ starting lineup make each other better. The Sixers still haven’t lost when they started Simmons, Embid, Seth Curry, Danny Green and Tobias Harris. For glass cleaning, this group has an excellent plus – 18.9 net rating in 379 items without time for garbage.
When a piece or two is missing – especially a player like Embiid, one of the most valuable in the league – the Sixers are much easier to win.
On the wrong side of the difference in free throws
The Sixers came in second in the NBA with an offensive level of free throws and 13th with a defensive level of free throws to clear the glass.
Embiid was a huge factor in their success, of course, and the team lost the free-throw battle badly on Monday night without him. Detroit shot 32 for 38 from a foul, while the Sixers was 15 for 20. In addition to the simple fact of Embiid’s absence, these numbers are also indicative of the fact that the Pistons come into contact more (and with great efficiency) than the Sixers.
Simmons, after making 10 of 12 free throws on Saturday, converted only 1 of 3. Harris, who led the Sixers with 25 points, made 2 of 4 fouls.