The Philadelphia 76ers have been shut down in recent days by two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They will try their hand at another high-ranking conference opponent when they host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday in the opener of a three-game homestand.
After winning five of six, the 76ers hit a wall with a 113-91 loss to Cleveland on Monday and then dropped a 108-97 decision at Boston three nights later, recording two of the five games in which they have been held under 100 points this season. Star center Joel Embiid sat out the loss to the Celtics but will be back in action to take on fellow big man Andre Drummond, whose 15th double-double (14 points, 17 rebounds) was not nearly enough in a 109-91 loss at Washington on Friday. The Pistons led by six at halftime but were outscored 35-15 in the third quarter as their three-game winning streak came to an end in the opener of a four-game road trip. Philadelphia claimed the first meeting between the teams with a 97-86 triumph at Detroit on Oct. 23, limiting the Pistons to 38.8 percent from the floor.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit Plus, NBCSN Philadelphia
ABOUT THE PISTONS (14-7): Even with Drummond’s 17 rebounds, Detroit was outrebounded by a whopping 49-32 margin at Washington, as the other four starters combined for four boards. “We got killed on the glass,” coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters. “They played so much harder. ... We did nothing. We did nothing. I really don’t have an explanation.” Guard Avery Bradley, who averaged a career-high 6.1 rebounds last season with Boston but has dipped below three per game with Detroit, has zero rebounds in 100 minutes over his last three games.
ABOUT THE 76ERS (12-9): Among the issues during Philadelphia’s 1-2 stretch has been a cold spell for swingman Robert Covington, who has career highs in scoring (14.7), field-goal percentage (44.5) and 3-point percentage (41.7) this season. The Tennessee State product is 9-for-36 from the floor over the last three games while hitting 4-of-24 3-pointers, although he seems unfazed by the slump. “Just because I haven’t been making shots the last few games means nothing,” Covington - who made 3-of-5 from long range in the win at Detroit earlier this season - told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I’m not going to let that affect me. I just got to keep going. I’ve been through it before. It ain’t nothing new. It will break.”
1. Sixers PG Ben Simmons recorded his first career triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in the first meeting.
2. Drummond entered Friday with a career average of 0.9 assists per game, but he has handed out 20 over the last three games.
3. Philadelphia PG T.J. McConnell (shoulder) missed Thursday’s game and is day-to-day.
PREDICTION: 76ers 108, Pistons 103