Player grades: Joel Embiid returns, Sixers easily beat Pistons again
PHILADELPHIA–The Philadelphia 76ers returned home to host the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday looking to sweep both the home-and-home series and the season series between the two teams. The Pistons were missing a lot of key pieces and it showed in this one.
Philadelphia led by as many as 41 as they took care of business and destroyed the undermanned Pistons at home 147-116. Joel Embiid returned from a three-game absence and he had 36 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sixers, and he looked his aggressive best in order to lead the way.
James Harden had another triple-double with 16 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds, Tobias Harris had 14 points on 6-for-6 shooting and six rebounds, and Tyrese Maxey had 16 points as well. PJ Tucker also chipped in with six and eight rebounds as the Sixers played with their regular starting lineup for the first time since Oct. 29. Shake Milton had 11 points and five assists, Jaden Springer had 10, and Montrezl Harrell had eight off the bench.
Here are the player grades following the win:
James Harden: A+
The Beard was magnificent to start this one as he had seven points, five rebounds, and five assists in the first quarter alone. He did a really good job of just getting into the paint and being able to have success on the offensive end. Obviously, Philadelphia is at its best when the pace is being pushed and that is reliant on Harden getting into a rhythm and running up the floor. He didn’t take many shots in this one, but he didn’t have to as the Pistons were not much of a challenge.
Tyrese Maxey: A
The young man out of Kentucky was able to get going on offense in the second quarter. With Harden on the bench, the offense ran through him and he was able to score rather easily. He had a nice stretch when he went right through Rodney McGruder for an easy basket and he followed that up with a mid-range jumper off a spin move and triple. In the second half, he was able to get to the basket with ease and the Sixers were able to run away with this one.
Tobias Harris: A+
Looking to set the tone, Harris scored the first seven points for Philadelphia in this one. He did a really good job of getting to his spots and being able to handle business on the offensive end. He was much more aggressive on the offensive end in this one compared to the win in Detroit on Sunday. This is the type of effort Philadelphia needs more consistently from Harris on a nightly basis.
PJ Tucker: A
The veteran continues to find more comfort in his role. He grabbed some rebounds that he probably shouldn’t have considering his lack of size and position on the play, but he grabbed it off of pure heart and grit. He also made a couple of corner triples so this was a very nice night for him.
Joel Embiid: A+
The Pistons were willing to just let Embiid shoot a bunch of open 3-pointers to start this one in his return from foot soreness. It was obvious that Nerlens Noel could not defend him, but he also had to get his wind back after missing a week due to the injury. When he put his mind to it, Embiid was attacking Noel, and really the entire Pistons roster, and he made it look so easy out there. He also didn’t have to play a ton of minutes in this one so that is always a big help for his recovery.
De'Anthony Melton: A-
Returning to a bench role, Mr. Do Something had a tough night offensively, but he was a menace on the defensive end. He did a really good job of smothering Alec Burks when he entered for Detroit and the Sixers really benefited from having him out there on defense. He finally did break through in the third quarter when he made an open triple off of good ball movement.
Shake Milton: B+
The veteran out of SMU had a nice bucket going to the basket against Saddiq Bey and he had a rebound and an assist in his initial stint off the bench. He didn’t have the greatest night on defense and he was getting caught on fouls, but he did move the ball and provide something on the offensive end. He scored most of his points when the game was well over.
Montrezl Harrell: A-
The veteran didn’t have a great night defensively in terms of protecting the paint, but he played solid positional defense and he was helpful on the offensive end. He just has a knack for being able to carve out space underneath the basket and be able to finish through taller defenders. His passing in this one was excellent as well.
Matisse Thybulle: A
Once again, Thybulle had a big night on defense. He had a big block on Burks when he went up for a jumper and he bothered Detroit on that end of the floor. On offense, he had a nice cut to the basket for a layup as he continues to find his way on that end.
Georges Niang: C-
It was a tough start for Niang as he was called for a very questionable (bad) offensive foul when Detroit’s Hamidou Diallo performed a big flop. He then was called for a technical foul for arguing up and down the floor and he then missed a wide-open triple. In his second stint, the Sixers already had the game in hand so he didn’t need to do much.
Jaden Springer: A
Springer received extended garbage time in this one and he made some nice plays on the offensive end. The Pistons had starters Killian Hayes, Jaden Ivey, and Bey still in the game and Springer was able to make some nice plays on both ends of the floor. Obviously, it’s just garbage time and it didn’t matter at that point, but for Springer’s development, that was good to see.