National Basketball Association
76ers-Pistons Preview
National Basketball Association

76ers-Pistons Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 3:24 p.m. ET

Stan Van Gundy, president of basketball operations, had every right to take into account health concerns when he vetoed a trade that could've added to the Detroit Pistons' depth.

He had no idea how that would affect Stan Van Gundy the head coach.

Detroit suddenly is without two forwards for at least the next couple of weeks of its playoff push, but it will try to build on a victory over the Eastern Conference's top team when the league-worst Philadelphia 76ers visit Wednesday night.

Van Gundy acquired Tobias Harris from Orlando last week before agreeing to send Joel Anthony to Philadelphia at the trade deadline in a three-team deal that would give Houston a protected first-round pick in exchange for big man Donatas Motiejunas and guard Marcus Thornton.


Motiejunas, though, failed a pair of physical exams because of lingering back problems, and Van Gundy voided the deal. It was a good thing there were no issues with the Harris trade.

Anthony Tolliver will miss two to four weeks because of a right knee sprain, and Van Gundy said in a radio interview Tuesday that rookie Stanley Johnson will be "probably out a couple weeks" after injuring his shoulder in the second half of Monday's 96-88 win at Cleveland.

That's bad news for the Pistons (28-29), who are two games back of Charlotte and Chicago for the East's final playoff spot. Reggie Bullock, who has appeared in only 19 games and hasn't played more than seven minutes since Nov. 15, is expected to see time in place of Johnson.

"We're going to have to play really well right now," Van Gundy said. "We're very thin up front. We came out of the game (Monday) with Tobias Harris and Marcus Morris as our only forwards to play the 3 and 4 spots."

The game went well overall, though. Detroit had lost a season-high five straight, with the disappointment lingering over the All-Star break. It hadn't won since beating New York on Feb. 4

Reggie Jackson scored 23 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with 19 and Andre Drummond added 16 and 15 rebounds. Morris and Harris scored 14 points apiece.

''We're desperate, man,'' Jackson said. ''We've got to be hungry for every last win after dropping the last five. We've been trying to find a way to battle and be resilient, and I couldn't be more proud of the guys for stepping up with us so shorthanded.''

The Sixers (8-48) have lost five in a row while allowing an average of 124.7 points over their last three after falling 124-115 to Orlando on Tuesday. Their 54.4 field-goal percentage marked their third-highest of the season, but they fell behind early and couldn't recover.

Ish Smith finished with 22 points, and Nerlens Noel had 16 and 11 boards. Rookie Jahlil Okafor had 17 points after finishing with a season-high 31 in Sunday's loss to Dallas.

''The energy's not where we need it to be,'' coach Brett Brown said. ''That starting group's got to get going, really. We need better defense from that starting group.''

The Sixers have shown that a good start doesn't mean much, though. They led Detroit by eight after the first quarter in the last meeting Jan. 27, but Jackson scored 27 points and Drummond finished with 25 and 18 rebounds in a 110-97 win. The Pistons led by 21 after the first 12 minutes and won 117-95 in the first matchup Dec. 11.

Philadelphia might be short a reserve in this one. Rookie guard T.J. McConnell left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and didn't return, leaving his status against the Pistons unclear.


Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more