Game Preview: Detroit Pistons host Philadelphia 76ers

The race for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference is heating up and every game for the Detroit Pistons is now crucial if they want to make a return to post-season play.

The Detroit Pistons find themselves tied with the Chicago Bulls for the Eastern Conference’s eighth seed and have five more wins than the 14th placed Philadelphia 76ers (18-32 record).

The Pistons are coming off a disappointing 105-84 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

After a solid first half which saw the Pistons take a two-point lead into halftime, they proceeded to completely fall apart, being outscored 49-26 in the final two quarters.

Similarly, the 76ers are coming off an equally disappointing 125-102 loss to the Miami Heat.

They also seem to have cooled off since their hot run to start 2017, which was seemingly sparked by Joel Embiid‘s desire to make the All-Star team.

They find themselves on a three-game losing streak, and have an average losing margin of 19.3 points across this stretch.

However, the Detroit Pistons have made a habit of playing teams into form this season.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Pistons already suffered an embarassing 97-79 loss to the 76ers back on December 11.

The 76ers were playing without Embiid and the Pistons came scarily close to giving up a triple-double to T.J. McConnell (12 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds).

Embiid has missed five straight games with a knee contusion and didn’t travel to Detroit with the Sixers, so Jahlil Okafor will get the start.

The Pistons will also need a big offensive improvement from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Three games ago he was on fire and set a new career-high of 38 points against the New Orleans Pelicans. Unfortunately, the past two games have been the complete opposite.

He scored just 2 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves (1 of 7 shooting) and 4 points against the Indiana Pacers (2 of 9 shooting).

While Caldwell-Pope did find other ways to contribute to the team in those games, the team struggles heavily without his shooting.

He’ll be coming up against a far less talented back court against the 76ers and shouldn’t have too much to worry about on defence, which hopefully means we’ll get a locked in shooting night.

Must read: What could have been if the Pistons drafted Justise Winslow

With the Charlotte Hornets currently amidst a seven-game losing skid, the Bucks being 2-8 in their last 10 games and the Chicago Bulls having a similarly up and down season, securing a win against a still-developing 76ers team will be crucial come deciding playoff spots at the end of the season.

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