A win tonight probably won't tell us a whole lot about whether the Sixers have emerged from their nine-game funk. Detroit is a bad team. A loss, however, would be tough to take. It's your classic lose/lose situation, from which the Sixers absolutely must emerge with a win.
The Pistons have settled on a starting lineup of Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell and Greg Monroe. As usual, this lineup presents matchup problems up front where Monroe is very skilled and Maxiell is very athletic and aggressive. I expect Monroe to score a bunch of points, there isn't a whole lot the Sixers can do to stop that, but they can put in the work needed to keep Maxiell off the offensive glass. The return of Elton Brand should help them up front.
On the perimeter, it'll be interesting to see if Jrue is on Knight or Stuckey. Both are capable ballhandlers, and Stuckey is probably too much for Meeks to handle. If he's driving and getting to the line early, Collins is going to have to either switch Jrue onto him or go to the bench for Turner. Either adjustment would be fine by me.
If/when Will Bynum is in the game, I'd love to see either Jrue or Turner take him down to the post for some easy points, though that's probably asking for too much at this point.
I'm less interested in the matchup than I am in watching the Sixers offense for any sign that Collins and his staff have inserted new sets to open things up a little bit. They had time to study what's gone wrong on that end of the floor, and a practice or two to implement the needed changes. Ultimately, the lid needs to come off the basket for the Sixers perimeter players, and one way to take care of that is to get a couple layups early.
I'd love to tell you I'm expecting the team to come out of the break with fresh legs and determination to regain their stranglehold on the Atlantic Division (plus home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs), but nothing we saw at the close of the first half points in that direction. If we're going to believe, again, the team needs to show us something. A blowout win tonight would be a nice start, though it should really be expected at this point.
The tip is at 7:30pm. This is your game thread. I'll be here throughout, join me if you're filled with extremely guarded optimism and crossing your fingers that the swoon will end sooner rather than later.
Prediction: PHI 102, DET 85