76ers at Pistons preview
Elton Brand’s play this season has many people questioning why the 76ers signed him to that huge deal. Brand, who has really struggled to stay healthy since arriving in Philly, is averaging 11 points and 5.6 rebounds.
The high-flying Andre Iguodala has emerged as the team’s franchise player and is averaging 18.4 points, 6 rebounds and 5.6 assists this season. Iguodala led the league in minutes played last year and is averaging just over 38 minutes a game this season.
Forward Thaddeus Young (13 points) and point guard Louis Williams (17.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists) are two young and upcoming players that have played well for the 76ers so far this season.
Second-year big man Marreese Speights has played well off the bench and is the team’s third leading scorer at 13.2 per game.
Key matchup — Pistons’ Rodney Stuckey vs. 76ers Louis Williams. Williams has rewarded the 76ers, who showed faith in him and let Andre Miller walk in the offseason. He is second on the team in scoring and is averaging over five rebounds and five assists per game. Containing him will be a key for Stuckey, who has to make Williams work on the defensive end. Stuckey also needs to get his teammates involved. Stuckey has dished out more than four assists just once (8 at Milwaukee) this season.
The skinny — Detroit and Philadelphia are two teams expected to contend for the last few playoff spots in the East. The Pistons need to protect their homecourt and get a win after two straight losses on the road.
The 76ers are allowing an average of 106.4 points per game (6th most in the NBA).
The Pistons have to play a full 48 minutes to get a win. One-quarter lapses have cost Detroit dearly in its four losses this season.
The Pistons gave up 40 points to Orlando in the first quarter Friday and never recovered. A 44-point second quarter by the Raptors was the difference on Wednesday. The Pistons were outscored 36-14 in the third quarter after leading 49-38 at halftime in their loss at Milwaukee and a third quarter funk (outscored 24-16, after leading 45-38 at the half) cost them in their home opener against the Thunder.
Charlie Villanueva had his best game of the season in the loss at Orlando, scoring 22 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. If Villanueva can become more consistent offensively it will go a long way in helping ease the scoring load off the guards.
“I was just trying to give life to the team,” Villanueva said of his effort in Orlando. “It was a bad situation that first quarter, we allowed them to score 40 points. Dug ourselves in a big hole so I just tried to give the team a little bit of energy, a little bit of a spark and I made some shots in that fourth quarter.”
Austin Daye also played well in Orlando and had his best game as a pro, finishing with 11 points (5-for-7 shooting) and five rebounds in 18 minutes.
Pistons coach John Kuester put in some extra work with the Pistons big men after practice Saturday and is hoping to see someone step up and secure a spot in the rotation.
“We needed to make sure we got some extra work,” Kuester said. “We have a number of guys that have done some good things. We’re looking to see who is going to separate themselves from the pack.”
The Pistons will once again be without Tayshaun Prince (back) who is out indefinitely and Richard Hamilton (ankle).
The early 1 p.m. start was not kind to the Pistons last year, but with a younger group of guys this season, it may not be a big deal.
“It changes your routine,” Kuester said of the early start. “Now all of a sudden your focused on trying to get things sped up, preparing for a 1 o’clock game. Sometimes the juices are flowing at the right time and sometimes they’re not. But I’m real excited about our game tomorrow. Philadelphia is a well-coached team with Eddie Jordan and also they got some tremendous talent.”
Prediction: Pistons 101, 76ers 96; Pemberton’s record 2-4