If you can manage to avoid distraction by the new mascot, the Broadway-inspired lighting, the Sixers of yore in attendance, the dollar dogs, the discounted tickets, the new national anthem singer and free rally towels, Adam Aron and Co. will have something else to wow you later tonight, an actual basketball game. Yes, the Sixers are finally home. (Tune in after the game for a special episode of SixersBeat)
I'd love to tell you this will be an interesting matchup, but it really isn't. The Pistons are a bad, bad team. They've got a bit of a glimmer of hope in Greg Monroe, who has really been a revelation in his first year-plus in the league. Beyond him, though, there's just not much there. Stuckey is a combo guard in the Lou Williams mold, only not as explosive, nor as efficient. Brandon Knight is off to an inauspicious start. Jonas Jerebko is fin to watch, as is Will Bynum, but the Pistons are really in a bad situation. They're dragging the bloated carcasses of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva around behind them. They re-signed Tayshaun Prince and brought back Ben Wallace to hopefully cling to one last bit of their glory of the mid-aughts, but they don't have much left. Austin Daye is an interesting character, but when you get right down to it, even the watchable pieces of this team are pretty unwatchable in the new system Lawrence Frank has installed.
Prior to Monday's game, we learned New Orleans plays at the second-slowest pace in the league. Well, the Pistons are the absolute slowest. They walk the ball up the floor and pound the air out of the ball. They slow you down on the defensive end as well, hoping to grind out wins, but they don't have the firepower to make it work.
Over the next nine days, the Sixers will play seven games. They're going to get tired, they're going to get banged up, they're going to look sloppy and they just might lose a game or two to bad teams. Tonight, they don't have any of those excuses at their disposal. The Pistons are a bad team and the Sixers need to treat them as such. They're rested, they should have a big crowd to play in front of, it's about time they came out and just put the screws to a team from wire to wire. None of this falling behind early and letting the bench dig you out of the hole, hit them first, hit them hard, and don't let up.
A couple of players to keep an eye on for Detroit. For some reason, Will Bynum always has huge games against the Sixers. Dare him to shoot from the outside, don't let him drive to the hoop. Austin Daye I kind of like, fortunately, Lawrence Frank doesn't share the sentiment. Daye is down to 10 minutes/game, and he's shooting 22.7% from the floor. I really don't want to see him get hot tonight.
Stuckey left the Pistons last game with a groin injury, no word on whether he'll play or not.
The game is scheduled to start at 7pm, but it'll probably be late considering the "game experience" the Sixers have planned. The game thread will be up at 4:30 and make sure you stay tuned after the game, because Derek Bodner and I will be hosting a live episode of SixersBeat right after the final buzzer. Get this win, make it look easy, and then worry about the crazy schedule over the next week and change. It starts with this win.