Instant Observations: 76ers Take Care of Business Against Pistons Behind Dominant Embiid Outing

Instant Observations: 76ers Take Care of Business Against Pistons Behind Dominant Embiid Outing Apr 9, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) dribbles the ball against the Detroit Pistons during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers took care of business on Tuesday night, defeating the Detroit Pistons 120-102 at the Wells Fargo Center. The win extended the Sixers’ winning streak to six games.

Joel Embiid led the way, finishing with 37 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks. Tobias Harris totaled 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Buddy Hield added 18 points and six rebounds off the bench.

Tyrese Maxey (left hip tightness), Kyle Lowry (left knee effusion) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) are all out for the Sixers. De’Anthony Melton made his return to the court after missing significant time with lumbar spine bone stress. He has only suited up in five games since the calendar flipped to 2024.

Jaden Ivey finished with 25 points, five rebounds and four assists for Detroit. Evan Fournier scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting off the bench. The Pistons were missing a multitude of players from their rotation. Detroit was without Cade Cunningham (left knee injury management), Quentin Grimes (right knee contusion), Isaiah Stewart (right hamstring strain), Ausar Thompson (illness), Simone Fontecchio (left great toe contusion) and Stanley Umude (right ankle fracture).

With two games left to play, the Sixers sit at 45-35 and in seventh place in the tight Eastern Conference standings. The Sixers next take on the Orlando Magic on Friday night. Here are some instant observations from the win over the Pistons:


– Embiid typically feasts against the Pistons, a team devoid of any strong interior defenders. The big fella continued that trend, dominating Detroit in all facets of the game. After missing his first two shots (both from long distance), he unleashed a torrent of offensive production. He scored at will, regardless of who defended him. Jalen Duren, Detroit’s starting center, picked up two quick fouls and was forced to the bench after 3:18 of action. James Wiseman fared no better in his attempts at slowing Embiid down. Embiid went into halftime having already put 20 points up on the board. His jumper was in rhythm both in the mid-range and from beyond the arc. His four made 3-pointers were the most he has had in a game this season.

While Embiid was dominant as a scorer, he also showcased his improved playmaking ability this season. He carved up Detroit’s defense, consistently making beautiful passes to teammates cutting to the basket. Plays like the one below were commonplace for Embiid against the Pistons.

If Embiid can consistently make those kinds of plays while operating in the post, the Sixers offense is going to become so much more difficult to defend. Embiid made multiple good plays as a passer, but he also mixed in a few sloppy turnovers. However, all told he had a good night as a playmaker against Detroit.

Embiid played 36 minutes against the Pistons, marking the most minutes he has played in a game since returning to the lineup from a two-month absence. His increased minutes are a huge positive sign of his improved conditioning since stepping back on the floor a few games ago.

– Melton returned to the floor after being out of action since Feb. 27 with a back injury. Head coach Nick Nurse made it clear to reporters before the game Melton was going to be eased back into action. Melton looked good in limited minutes against Detroit. It did not take long for him to make an impact upon stepping onto the floor at the beginning of the second quarter. Within two minutes of action, Melton recorded an offensive rebound, an assist to Jeff Dowtin Jr. and a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the corner.

Melton is clearly rusty, as evidenced by his 2-for-9 shooting line. However, he looked good physically and will hopefully remain healthy for the remainder of the season. Melton provides an important combination of length, defensive ability and offensive versatility. Having him back in the rotation will be a nice boost heading into the postseason.

– Dowtin put together a solid night off the bench. He finished with eight points, six assists and one steal in 20 minutes. His passing and court vision both continue to stand out whenever he is on the floor. The Sixers recently converted his two-way contract to a standard deal with a club option for next season. In signing Dowtin mid-season, the Sixers appear to have found a diamond in the rough.

– Nobody on the roster could benefit more than Hield did from seeing the ball go through the hoop. Coming off a disastrous past couple weeks, he shot 5-of-9 from 3-point range against the Pistons. The Sixers acquired him at the trade deadline primarily for his outside shooting ability. The shots have not been falling for him lately, and his minutes have been going down as a result. His strong night against Detroit should ideally propel him out of his recent slump.

– The Sixers did a great job crashing the offensive glass against the Pistons. They grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, leading to 33 second-chance points. Harris, making his return from a three-game absence, crashed the glass hard in this contest. He finished tied for the team lead with four offensive rebounds. While Harris did not do much as a scorer, his effort on the glass helped power his effective night overall.


– The Sixers ultimately came away with the win against the Pistons, but it took them far too much effort to beat one of the worst teams in the league. Outside of Embiid, the Sixers did not receive much offense from anyone else in the lineup. On the other end of the floor, the Pistons shot 14-of-30 from 3-point range. The Sixers were sleepwalking coming out of halftime, playing poor offensively and committing lazy fouls defensively. They committed five fouls in less than three minutes to open up the third quarter. Detroit took advantage of the Sixers’ poor play, cutting a 12-point deficit down to just one midway through the third quarter. The Sixers were able to recover and win the game easily, but they spent too much time toying around with a team they should have blown out of the water.

– Embiid nearly re-injured the same knee he just had a meniscus procedure on. His knee buckled while running towards the baseline attempting to corral an inbounds pass.

Fortunately, the play looked much worse than it actually was. Embiid did not miss any action against the Pistons, and Sixers fans everywhere just breathed a sigh of relief.

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