Pros and Cons: Sixers vs. Pistons
That’s the Jo we know.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He has been legally banned from covering the team in person, and when that ban was set to be lifted, Covid-19 struck. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
The Sixers returned home tonight for a matchup against the young Detroit Pistons (sans #1 overall pick Cade Cunningham), a game in which Shake Milton made his return from injury and Joel Embiid played despite knee concerns. Let’s get to the observations:
Pro: Tyrese Maxey rebounds
Maxey had a brutal showing during the brief road trip, with clunkers in both Oklahoma City on Sunday night and New York on Tuesday night. He was brutally inefficient as a scorer and failed to distribute the ball effectively.
Fortunately, tonight he was able to right the ship despite a continually difficult assignment playing point guard. Maxey picked his spots nicely as a scorer, and showed a willingness to attempt spot-up jumpers, including from beyond the arc. Maxey also thrived as a passer, dishing out some crafty assists against a suboptimal Detroit defense.
Doc Rivers talked pregame about how he wanted Maxey to often play with the second unit and assert himself as someone who can change the pace of the game. And tonight, Maxey did a great job dictating the pace of the game with his speed.
Tonight was absolutely a step in the right direction for the second-year guard, who has been called upon to shoulder a heavy load amid the absence of Ben Simmons.
Con: Why is Joel Embiid playing?
After he participated in this morning’s shootaround, it was not a surprise that Embiid was active tonight.
Frankly, the predictability of this all makes it even more frustrating. It’s been years of the same routine: Embiid needs to nurse an injury, he’s listed as a game-time decision, some ominous quotes from and about Embiid surface, everyone panics, and then he plays despite the ailment.
Embiid was great tonight, as he is almost every night. I’m no doctor, but the way Embiid’s injury is being handled seems troubling.
What we all do know is that Embiid will always insist on playing — as he should! He’s an ultra-competitive player who was once dubbed “Greg Oden 2.0” — it’s no shocker that he always wants to play. The onus is on the team to, even when uncomfortable, make the right long-term decision.
Of course, we’re not privy to all of the information that the team and its medical staff are. But this all, at the very least, feels dangerous.
Pro: Shake Milton solid in return
Milton was inserted back to the top of the pecking order as far as bench players are concerned. Some rust always shows in these situations, but all in all, I thought he had a good night.
Milton scored effectively, both as a spot-up shooter and a driver going towards the rim. But more important, in my opinion, was his distribution. Milton seemed much more comfortable as a passer than he did the last time we saw him during the preseason.
For now, Milton being back in the rotation as the third guard makes sense. But don’t be surprised if you see him start at some point down the line. Another thing that Rivers said pregame is that, for as long as Simmons is not available, the Sixers will consider switching their starting lineup based on matchups, size, and other factors that are at play.
Maxey proved tonight that he is the best point guard available to this team right now. But you should expect to see a lot of Shake moving forward.