The Detroit Pistons take on the Philadelphia 76ers this afternoon in their second matchup of the season. The game can be seen on NBA League Pass.
The last meeting
In their first meeting, Blake Griffin scored a career-high 50 points which included a pair of game-saving shots. With 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter, he hit a game-tying jump shot to help force overtime. After JJ Redick's four-point play put the 76ers up by two with five seconds left, Griffin drew a foul while making the game-tying shot with one second left and then hit the free throw to give Detroit a one-point win.
Griffin's late-game heroics came after he exploded for 22 points in the second quarter, tied for the highest-scoring quarter of his career.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 33 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists in a game in which Ben Simmons did not play.
The Pistons enter on a three-game skid after starting the season 4-0. After dropping two games against the Celtics, the Pistons lost in overtime to the Brooklyn Nets on the second game of a back-to-back.
Griffin has been extraordinary for the Pistons for the season, averaging 27.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. He enters the game ninth in the NBA in scoring and is one of four players averaging at least 25 points and 10 rebounds per game, along with Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
MORE: How Griffin has been better than LeBron, Westbrook and Dirk
Andre Drummond is off to a strong start as well, pairing with Griffin to give Detroit one of the NBA's most formidable frontcourt pairings. Drummond is averaging 19.0 points and league-high 16.3 rebounds and is coming off a good performance against the Nets in which he finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds. It was his third game this season with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds, a feat nobody else has done even once.
Though Griffin and Drummond have played well overall on the season, the Pistons have gone ice cold during their three-game losing streak, shooting just 40.4 percent from the field including 25.7 percent from the 3-point line. The starting backcourt of Reggie Jackson and Reggie Bullock have combined to shoot just 29.9 percent while Griffin is shooting 37.5 percent with more turnovers (14) than assists (10).
It's been an up-and-down season so far for the 76ers who are 5-4 and coming off a home loss to the Clippers.
They have struggled against stronger competition in the Eastern Conference with losses against the Celtics, Raptors, Bucks and Pistons and have not been able to lean on their defence as they did a year ago. In those four games, the 76ers - who finished third in the NBA last season in defensive efficiency - have allowed 122.5 points per game.
A top storyline to monitor with the 76ers is the play of second-year guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Though he has started in all nine games, Fultz has struggled to find his shot and is shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor.
The pairing of Fultz and Ben Simmons has not worked thus far. In the 11 minutes per game they are playing alongside each other, the 76ers have been outscored by 12.4 points per 100 possessions with an offensive rating that would rank dead last in the NBA. The lack of spacing whenever those two have shared the floor has hindered Philadelphia as the team is shooting 38.9 percent including just 22.6 percent from beyond the three-point line.
Those concerns have been buoyed by the strong play of Joel Embiid who has been arguably the NBA's most productive big man. Embiid enters the game with Detroit averaging 28.6 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game. It's obviously early, but that's a historic level of production only matched by Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bob McAdoo.
JJ Redick has also been a reliable source of production for the 76ers despite his move to the bench. Through nine games Redick is averaging a career-high 18.4 points per game and is one of only three players to score in double figures off the bench in every game this season along with Lou Williams of the Clippers and Jordan Clarkson of the Cavaliers.