A series of unlikely events would be necessary for the Sixers not to finish first in the Eastern Conference.
At 46-21, they lead the Bucks and Nets by three games. Each team has five to play ahead of Saturday night’s action.
Here is the gist for the Sixers game with the 20-47 Pistons:
- When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
- Or: Wells Fargo Center
- Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus
- Direct: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the MyTeams app
And here are three scenarios to watch:
Green is not happy with the Sixers’ game
The Sixers’ seven straight wins are a season high. However, Danny Green is not happy with the way they chose some of them.
He was asked to rate how the team played after Saturday night’s breakout against the Pelicans.
“Not good,” he said. “Not our type of basketball. We get wins, but I don’t like the way we get them. We need to be more locked up. I’m not saying this to disrespect – any team can win any night. They are very talented teams despite everything. But these teams are not 100% healthy; they don’t have everyone.
“If we want to play like the No.1 team in the East or a contender for the championship, a team that wants to be the last team with the potential that we can play, we have to do a lot better. I think when guys see these teams they feel like, “Okay, we just have to play offense.” … Like I said, we’re just not playing the right way, offensively or defensively.
While the Sixers have four wins of 20 or more points in their current streak – one over the Thunder, two over the Hawks and one over the Rockets – the other three wins have indeed been highly flawed performances.
The double-digit second-half leaders have escaped and the Sixers bench hasn’t been good in those games.
“I’m not worried about it,” head coach Doc Rivers said Friday night. “I participate in all (67) matches; they were pretty good overall. We went through periods this year, if you remember, where the starters weren’t playing well. It’s just ebbs and flows of a long season. I learned a long time ago that if you overreact, you get in trouble. So I am not at all worried.
A bump in the road against zone defense
The Pelicans’ zonal defense upset the Sixers on Friday night.
“We just didn’t move the ball,” Rivers said. “I thought the ball was on all night. We raised the balloon to the ground. And I thought we were very hesitant against that. It touched us tonight. It hasn’t happened all year. We were dominant versus zone, for the most part, so it was one of those nights. It happens.”
Zonal offense emerged as a problem for the Sixers in their mid-December losses last season to Miami and Dallas. As long as they stay composed and execute the fundamentals, it doesn’t seem like it should be a problem moving forward.
“… I have been playing against zone since I was about 11 years old,” said Ben Simmons. “And one thing I noticed coming to the United States is that a lot of American players panic a bit when they see an area and panic. We just have to keep playing, get to our places. “
Simmons, Curry out, Grant back
Former Sixer Jerami Grant will play on Saturday night, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey said ahead of the game. Grant had been listed as questionable with pain in his right knee. He last performed on April 26.
Dennis Smith Jr., Rodney McGruder, Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo are sidelined.
One of the Pistons’ 20 wins came against the Sixers, a 119-104 game in Detroit on Jan. 25 that Joel Embiid missed with back strain.
Embiid is ready to play both legs in this back to back set. Ben Simmons (back strain), Seth Curry (left hip flexor recovery) and Furkan Korkmaz (right ankle sprain) came out for the Sixers.