Sixers-Pistons: 5 things you need to know

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Sixers-Pistons: 5 things you need to know

The Sixers (6-11) look to snap their three-game skid when they kick off December against the Detroit Pistons (6-10).

Tipoff is set for 3:30 p.m. (CSN) at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Feeling homesick
The Sixers have had their share of problems lately and things have been even worse on the road.

The team has just a 1-6 record away from home this season with its lone road win coming in the second game of the year over Washington.

While the Sixers are allowing a league-worst 109.8 points per game, that number has reached 113.8 during their six straight road defeats. They rank 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency coming into Sunday’s meeting.

The Sixers should be able to find their footing against a Detroit squad that’s had its own issues on the offensive end. The Pistons are 18th in the league in scoring at 98.3 points per game. Also, in the three-point department -- where the Sixers have struggled all season long -- the Pistons are dead last with a woeful 28.8 percent.

2. All hands on deck
A big reason the Sixers have struggled recently is the shuffling of their lineup.

Due to injuries (Spencer Hawes and Michael Carter-Williams) and personal reasons (Thaddeus Young), the Sixers have been without their usual slate of starters. Friday’s home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was the first time in nine games that the Sixers trotted their regular starting lineup onto the court.

In nine games with head coach Brett Brown’s normal lineup, the Sixers posted a 4-5 record and reached the 100-point mark six times. In the other eight games, the Sixers are 2-6 and hit the 100-point mark just three times.

3. Get on the glass
The Sixers rank third in the NBA in rebounding, but they might have their hands full on the boards against the Pistons.

The Pistons only rate 14th in rebounding. However, they boast a trio of big men that can clean the glass with anyone in Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith.

Drummond’s 11.8 rebounds per game are fourth-best in the league. Monroe grabs 8.6 boards a game and Smith hauls in 7.3.

All of that talent and length in the paint helps the Pistons grab a league-best 13.6 offensive rebounds per game.

4. Injuries
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are all out.

Detroit’s Will Bynum (hamstring) is day to day. Chauncey Billups (knee) is out.

5. This and that
• Young averages 20.7 points per game on the road, up from 11.1 at home.

• The Pistons have lost four of their last six overall.

• In their loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, the Pistons scored the NBA’s season high for points in the paint with 76. That passed the Sixers’ mark of 74 against the Wizards on Nov. 1.

• Monroe averaged 22.7 points, 13.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists in three games against the Sixers last season.

• The Sixers and Pistons are among the league’s worst teams at the free throw line. The Sixers are 28th at the stripe (69.3 percent) and the Pistons are last in the NBA (66.8 percent).

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

Sixers Mailbag: Joel Embiid's return, signing Kyle Lowry?

This week I tweeted asking for questions for a Sixers mailbag, and the replies came pouring in. (Thanks, everyone!)

So we changed it up and in addition to answering the questions in these articles, we also discussed some of the topics on PST Extra. Read below and watch the video for the responses.

If you tweeted a question with #CSNSixersMailbag and don't see it on here, there will be plenty more answered leading up to the draft and free agency.

Both players are planning to return to the court during the offseason.

Joel Embiid recently said he intends to be ready for opening night and to play all 82 games next season. That would mean he has a lot of work to do before then. Embiid, who underwent knee surgery in March, has been pleased with his rehab and is scheduled for another scan. He has not been jumping and plans to be cleared for 5-on-5 this summer.

"Every day I go in and do some rehab on my knee, on my whole body basically," Embiid said last week at the draft lottery. "Then [I] get on the court, shoot a little bit flat-footed, and then lift. After lifting, I go in the pool and [on the] treadmill and then start running in the pool. Usually, I'm there for about four, five hours every day."

Covington underwent surgery for a right meniscus tear in mid-April. He actually began his rehab before the procedure, which doctors told him could cut down on his recovery time. Following the surgery, the Sixers announced Covington was expected to "resume basketball activities" this summer.

Training camp is still months away. The players will be closely watched during that period before their availability and minutes are determined for the start of the season.

Rye.

And for the non-question, I'll give that a reply too. I see this point of view: draft a young small forward and bring in an experienced guard. I could envision an opposite scenario, though.

The Sixers could bolster their perimeter play through free agency or a trade. They lacked depth at small forward last season. A player with years on his résumé could fill that void faster than a rookie who will need time to develop into an NBA player.

As for Lowry, there's no question he can improve any NBA team. As I noted a few weeks ago, he is at a different stage in his career than the Sixers are in their progress. The Sixers also have Jerryd Bayless on the books to provide that veteran leadership to Ben Simmons as he learns how to play the one spot.

If I had to go with adding experience at one position or the other, I'd lean toward small forward over point guard.

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

NBA Notes: Cavs-Warriors III joins past championship trilogies

It never happened between Magic Johnson's Lakers and Larry Bird's Celtics. Same for Michael Jordan and Karl Malone or Jerry West and Bill Russell.

While there have been 14 rematches in NBA Finals history, this year's meeting between LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors will be the first trilogy in league history.

After the Warriors beat the Cavs for their first title in 40 years in 2015, Cleveland got revenge last season with a comeback from 3-1 down to give the city its first major championship since 1964. Now they meet for the rubber match starting June 1 in Oakland.

While this may be unprecedented in the NBA, it has happened once before in the NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball with matchups that included some of those sports' biggest stars.

There was Babe Ruth vs. Frankie Frisch in the 1920s and then a pair of memorable three-peat matchups in the 1950s featuring Otto Graham against Bobby Layne in the NFL and Gordie Howe against Maurice Richard in the NHL.

Warriors: Durant once team’s 2nd choice
Truth be told, Golden State's former coach wasn't sure the Warriors needed Kevin Durant.

The Warriors were already small-ball sensations, capable of piling up the points with their daring drives and sizzling shooting. So rather than add another scorer, Don Nelson figured Golden State might be better off getting a dominant man in the middle to shore up the defense in the 2007 NBA draft.

Nelson thought the Warriors needed Greg Oden.

That was 10 years ago, leading up to the heavily hyped draft in which the Oden-Durant debate raged throughout basketball. And now, as Durant leads the league's most potent team into the NBA Finals while Oden is long gone from the NBA spotlight, it's easy to forget that a lot of people agreed with Nelson.

"I think everyone felt that there were two players there that were going to be prominent players, but one thing you can't count on is injuries," Warriors executive Jerry West said. "So Greg really never had a chance to have a career, where Kevin's obviously been more than advertised."

Celtics: Thomas unsure if he’ll need surgery
Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas wanted to keep playing in the Eastern Conference finals, but team doctors and officials convinced him he needed to shut down his season for his long-term health.

"They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what's more important," Thomas said Friday, a day after the Celtics were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. "But I definitely wasn't trying to hear that at that point in time."

Thomas injured the hip in March and aggravated it in the second-round series against Washington. He played three halves against the Cavaliers before limping off the court in the middle of Game 2.

The Celtics lost that game by 44 points to fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-seven series, then announced the next day that Thomas was done for the season. Still, they beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland the next game before falling easily in Games 4 and 5.

"Eastern Conference finals, that's the biggest stage I've ever been on," Thomas said at the team's practice facility in Waltham, Massachusetts. "To not be able to go back out there in that second half and continue that series was painful. Like it hurt me."

Speaking for the first time since the end of his season, Thomas said he might need surgery but it's "not the No. 1 option right now." He will have to wait for more tests until the swelling goes down, he said (see full story).