DETROIT — What’s good, folks?
Let me start by saying happy holidays to y’all. This is going to a busy and telling week for the 76ers.
To be honest, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do on Christmas afternoon against the Bucks at Wells Fargo Center. But before that, the Sixers (21-10) have what they hope is just a tune-up Monday night at the Detroit Pistons.
Whatever the case, we will continue to learn a lot more about the Sixers over the next five games against the Pistons and Bucks followed by road games at Orlando (Friday), Miami (Saturday), and Indiana (Dec. 31). Like coach Brett Brown said several weeks ago, we’ll find out who the Sixers are after Christmas.
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— Keith Pompey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Joel Embiid says he’s matured. The Sixers center also says he’s stopped trash talking. But how will those changes impact Monday night’s game against the Pistons? More importantly, how will it impact his head-to-back matchup with Andre Drummond?
Those are the huge questions heading into the game.
Embiid has had a lot of success using trash talk to get the Pistons’ center out of his game. And believe me, the Sixers two-time All-Star has been allergic to remaining quiet against Drummond. He made a habit of dominating Drummond, and let him know about it. Embiid even said, “I feel like I own a lot of real estate in his head” after frustrating Drummond in a Pistons’ 133-132 overtime victory in October 2018.
The Cameroonian backed up those words in the Sixers’ 109-99 home victory the next month. He dominated Drummond, a two-time All-Star, and everyone else Detroit used to defend him. Embiid finished with 39 points and game highs of 17 rebounds and two blocks that day. Embiid said he knew Drummond was scared by the look in his eyes. The Piston only played 4 minutes, 22 seconds in the first half after picking up three fouls. His backup then, Zaza Pachulia, was also pulled in the first half after picking up his fourth foul. He saw 9:40 of action. Embiid felt Drummond and Pachulia tried to flop a lot.
“At the end of the day, I kicked both of their [butts],” Embiid said back then. “So whoever was guarding me, we got the win.”
But the trash talking didn’t stop there. After the game, Embiid took a shot at Drummond on Instagram: “I own a lot of real estate in @Andredrummondd head and I’m on my way to build more #Bum #TheProcess”
So this matchup Monday could be quite entertaining. Embiid has averaged 29 points and 10.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 blocks in six matchups against Drummond. The Sixers have won 5 of those games. Drummond averaged 13.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in those games.
I offered my best and worst from Sixers’ victory over Washington, and Ben Simmons’ latest act of thievery.
Can the Sixers find a way to overcome glaring shortfalls vs. elite competition that were on display in losses to the Mavs and Heat?
Up-close glimpse of the one that got away
On Christmas, the Sixers will face the guy who came close to being the sharpshooter they covet.
Kyle Korver, a reserve guard for the Bucks, will tell you it wasn’t an easy decision to walk away from Philly’s offer during free agency.
“It was tough. It was tough,” he repeated. “There were a lot of things. I love their team. I love Coach Brown. [Sixers general manager] Elton Brand was a teammate of mine in Atlanta, who I have the utmost respect for.”
The former Sixer felt like coming back to Philadelphia to play would have been a full-circle type of thing. He ultimately felt signing with the Bucks was the best thing for me.
The 38-year-old is averaging 6.2 points and 16.1 minutes while shooting 39.3% on three-pointers.
Important Dates: Next Five Flow
Monday: Sixers at Detroit, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and ESPN
Wednesday: Milwaukee at Detroit, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Friday: Sixers at Orlando, 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia and NBA TV
Saturday: Sixers at Miami, 8 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Dec. 31: Sixers at Indiana, 3 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia
Passing the rock
Question: Do you see Josh Richardson as a long-term piece with 76ers? — @phillyphanpsu on Twitter
Answer: What’s up, @phillyphanpsu? Thanks for asking the question. Yes, I do see him as a long-term option. Now, let’s be real. There are not a lot of people who are untradable when you can package them to get an A-list player. But aside from that, the Sixers love the things Richardson does. A lot of his contributions don’t show up on a stat sheet. He’s arguably their most versatile player. He’s also their glue guy. They will need that versatility in the postseason. Plus, he has still yet to scratch the surface of what he can do here.