DETROIT - The Sixers are taking on the Pistons for their third matchup of the year, but this time, they'll be without Joel Embiid against Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.
Here are the essentials for tonight's matchup.
• When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m.
• Where: Little Caesars Arena
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
• Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app
And here are three storylines to watch for tonight's game:
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Who steps up in JoJo's place?
Embiid hadn't looked himself the past four games, capped off by a performance in Toronto that left him searching for answers and criticizing his own play. He was averaging 16.8 points, shooting 38.1 percent, 8.3 percent from three-point range and 64.3 percent from the charity stripe over the past four games.
With Embiid having played the fourth-most minutes in the NBA, Brett Brown has made the decision to rest him, citing fatigue over the past few games and a responsibility to preserve his health. Either Mike Muscala or Amir Johnson will start in Embiid's place, but how will the team make up for Embiid's offensive production - or his ability to shut down Drummond seemingly every time he matches up against him?
I've got a feeling Drummond was jumping for joy when he heard the news, and I'm sure he'll take advantage of not having to deal with Embiid tonight.
Crashing the boards and taking care of the ball
Between turnovers and offensive rebounds, the Sixers gave up 49 points to the Raptors on Wednesday night. It's not the first time we're talking about turnovers, and it won't be the last.
Detroit ranks second in offensive rebounding (12.6 per game) and fourth in offensive rebound percentage. On top of that, Drummond is first in total rebounds, offensive rebounds and second-chance scoring. On top of that, the Sixers will be without Embiid and will still need to find a way to limit second-chance opportunities.
The Pistons have the No. 1 three-point defense in the NBA right now, holding opponents to just 31.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc, but their opponent field goal percentage rises to 46.6 percent, 18th in the NBA.
Knowing that the Pistons are incredibly aggressive closing out the three-point line, what will the Sixers do to counterbalance that? Drives, getting into the paint, kicking out once they're in the paint, slashing, etc.
The Sixers experienced a similar type of defense in the playoffs last season against the Celtics. What type of progress will we see in that area?
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