When the Sixers first met the Pistons, they were a helpless 0-8 on the season with more questions than answers. Rudderless, perhaps. On that night, nearly a month ago, the Sixers came out lifeless and got their doors blown off. Tonight, they will attempt to exact their revenge against a much more cohesive Detroit unit.
Tonight's game means more than your typical December contest against an 8-15 team. The next month is going to be extremely difficult, no matter what Andrew Bynum's MRI reveals on the 20th. 12 of their next 17 are on the road. Only three of the games are against truly bad teams. The Ice Capades trip is right there in the middle of it. On top of the looming schedule, you've got the somewhat distant memory of the embarrassing loss to the winless Pistons and the more recent offensive struggles against the Celtics. The Sixers are scrapping for every inch, because they have to. At this point, they can't afford to overlook teams. They really can't afford to play up or down to their competition, because the fact is the matter, there aren't a whole lot of teams they can play down to. They need to be executing on both ends of the floor to beat everyone.
The Pistons have seemingly found a nice inside-outside combo since the teams last met (or perhaps they found in the win over the Sixers). Greg Monroe remains an inside presence, though maybe a bit underutilized. Andre Drummond has had some extremely productive games and remains an efficient weapon on the offensive end despite shooting 39.1% from the free throw line. They've got multiple guys shooting the lights out from three: Knight (43.5%), Prince (45.8%), Singler (42.6%) and Charlie V (40%). They're weakest link has been Rodney Stuckey who's shooting a dreadful 37% from the floor and 24.6% from three.
Stopping the Pistons is really the least of the Sixers problems, though. First, they need to get their offense back on track and that starts with Jrue and Turner. Over the past three games, Jrue has hit only 16 of 44 from the floor (36.4%) and 1 of 8 from three (12.5%). Over the last four, Turner is shooting 38% on 79 attempts, though he has hit 45.4% from deep (5/11). This team can't win if Jrue and Turner are combining for 35+ shots and not scoring efficiently. Of course, they probably can't win if they're passing up a ton of those shots, either, so it's a double-edged sword.
The ship needs to get righted, and quickly. They should have plenty of motivation tonight at the WFC. We're going to have to wait and see, I suppose. The goal remains to be four game over .500 before heading out for their murderous road trip, that means 5-2 over the next seven, which is pretty unlikely with a win tonight. With a loss. Impossible.
The tip is at 7pm. Use this as your game thread. It'd be nice to see some fresh legs and an attacking mentality.