The matchup was highly anticipated. There was plenty of trash talk. And, in the end, as far as performance, Embiid came out on top. But this was not the battle that we wanted. There was less jawing and big moments than I had anticipated and I'm sure less of a big show than Embiid would have wanted. But the biggest moment of the game and biggest energy shift did happen when Drummond fouled out with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left. Embiid motioned for him to leave, the crowd loved it and the Sixers turned things up to close out the game. At least for future bragging rights and fuel for the fire Embiid is one step ahead having finished the night with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Drummond finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and five steals before fouling out. We'll get to watch this matchup play out two more times this season (Jan. 5 and April 4).
In the six games leading up to Saturday's matchup, Covington shot a combined 23.3 percent from three, going 4-of-24 in the last three games. He turned a corner against the Pistons hitting 6-of-13 three-pointers and finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds, two blocks, and two steals. He didn't just rely on the long ball, he scored from everywhere and you could see it on his face that it felt good to get back in rhythm. As stated many times before, Covington and his ability to hit from deep is a necessary component of the Sixers' offense and its a good sign that his shooting slump was short-lived.
Simmons made a layup early in the second quarter and didn't score again until midway through the fourth. It wasn't just that he was missing shots but that he didn't take many. He finished with his lowest scoring output of the season and his first game not in double figures with five points, 10 rebounds, and six assists. Simmons has also been shockingly good on the defensive end thus far, but he didn't have many answers for Tobias Harris who finished with a game-high 27 points to go with seven rebounds.
The Sixers went a little cold in the third quarter shooting just 31 percent and scoring just 17 points to the Pistons 33. Not only was the scoring cold but the Sixers defense started to drop off. And then, on top of everything the fouls started pouring in. The Sixers committed eight fouls in the quarter that translated into 11 made free throws by Detroit. Three of the fouls in the third quarter were charged to Amir Johnson, who otherwise had a solid game. There were other problems but the fouls definitely made it easier for the Pistons to eat away at was a 16-point lead for the Sixers.