Sixers make it eight wins in a row with domination of Pistons, 118-104
As the regular season winds down, the Sixers continue to hunt for their first #1 seed playoff berth since the 2000-01 season. With the state of the eastern conference standings, the magic number for Philly is three more wins in their remaining six games. After a close win over the Pelicans last night, the Sixers host the Detroit Pistons tonight.
With no Simmons and no Curry tonight, some young guys get the chance for more minutes, especially in the backcourt. Starting in place of Ben and Seth was rookie Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle to make the starters even younger tonight. With two starters out someone had to step up early, and tonight it was all Tobias Harris in the first. Tobi came out hot, hitting five shots in the first for 11 points. He got some help from his bigs too, as both Howard and Embiid ended the opening quarter with eight. That helped the Sixers double up the Pistons in the first, ending the first up 34-17.
Sometimes regular-season games bring special moments, and even a lowly game against the lackluster Pistons presented one. With his sixth rebound in the game, Howard moved up to number 11 all-time in rebounds.
Despite the 17 point lead going into the second quarter, the Sixers once again took the foot off the gas. A five-minute period saw Detroit go on a 20-6 run that brought the Sixers lead down to single digits. Luckily for Philly, a couple of Piston turnovers would give the Sixers a 7-0 run that brought the lead back up to 15. One half of the Sixers sharpshooting squad went very cold tonight in the half, as Danny Green went 0-6 from the field in the first half. Joel Embiid on the other hand heated up in the second, ending the half with 18 points only missing one of his seven shots. Behind that, the Sixers went into the break up 56-43.
Early in the third Matisse Thybulle went to the locker room after having his left hand stepped on in an awkward position. He’d come back out to the bench sporting a bandage on that hand and check back into the game right before the end of the third. The Sixers didn’t miss a beat with him out though, as Danny Green notched eight quick points early in the third to help boost the Sixer lead out to 16. Dwight Howard would grab his 13th double-double of the season in the third, he’d go on to finish with 19 points and 14 rebounds which included a corner three. His big third quarter helped the Sixers lead 89-73 going into the fourth.
Added minutes for Matisse brings more steals for the Sixers, they’d finish the game with 11 steals as a team with five of those coming from Thybulle. The other youngster in the starting lineup certainly had an impact as well. Tyrese Maxey ended the game with 22 points and looked much more comfortable shooting the ball, knocking down a three. He also had one of the coldest dunks of the season from a Sixer in the fourth after showing off his ball-handling skills. You can bet this clip was running on ESPN all night long.
Despite the season-high scoring from Howard and the great game from the rook, Joel Embiid was by far the best Sixer tonight. He ended the night with 29 points, shooting 11 of 13 from the field. The benches would clear with five minutes to go in the fourth, and Philly would take the game 118 -104 over the Pistons.
With the win, the magic number now goes down to two. The Sixers need to win just two of their final five games to lock up home-court advantage all the way to the NBA Finals. What’s so remarkable about this eight-game winning streak is that they’ve won five of those games in a mere week. Philly won’t be back until Tuesday when they take on the Pacers.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia 76ers, Bill Striecher.