DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 7: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers introduced prior to the game against the Detroit Pistons on December 7, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan.
Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Preview | Maintaining an Urgent Mindset

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Scene Setter:

Collective effort was a frequently referenced theme, both by Brett Brown and his players, in the aftermath of the 76ers’ comeback win over the Detroit Pistons, 117-111.

But behind that effort, another factor was at work. The team’s group mindset.

With Joel Embiid (rest) missing in action, the Sixers appeared to be emboldened by the challenge of knocking off a strong Eastern Conference opponent in the absence of one of the NBA’s top talents.

At no point of Friday’s tilt did the Sixers’ determination shine through and make more of a difference than during the middle stages of the fourth quarter.

The club’s defense kept Detroit, which had entered the week with nine wins in 11 games, off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes. The result was a decisive 13-0 run that flipped things in the Sixers’ favor.

“You just got to want it,” said Ben Simmons. “I think coming in here we wanted to get the win. I think it was huge everybody stepped up, played their role, and nobody did anything out of the ordinary. Guys just really stepped up and played hard.”

The Sixers trailed by as many as 15 points in Friday’s contest, and were down six points early in the final frame. Had their backs not stiffened when pushed to the proverbial wall, they likely would have returned home with an 0-2 record to show for their road trip.

Simmons praised the Sixers for competing with a desperate spirit, especially in light of Embiid and his team-leading 26.3 points and 13.3 rebounds being on the bench.

The Sixers were particularly tenacious defensively.

“We put ourselves in a hole, had to dig out, and get back. I think we played as a team, which was exciting.”

Watch the Sixers, and it’s easy to tell they’ve got fight. Their spunk manifests itself statistically, too (4th-NBA 7.8 deflections per game, 2nd-NBA 6.0 deflections per game).

Stir a little extra urgency into the pot, regardless of which players are available or not, and the Sixers typically stand a good chance of reaping the rewards, as was the case Friday in Motown.

“We just started playing harder, hustling, getting after the loose balls, rebounding, getting into the open floor,” said Jimmy Butler, who was essential to the Sixers’ defense shutting down Detroit.

And now, the Sixers are one win away from clinching an important season series win over a rival from the East.

Opponent Outlook:

Fortunes can change swiftly in the world of the NBA, and the Detroit Pistons are providing the latest case in point.

This time last week, Detroit was coming off a nine-point home victory over the Golden State Warriors, which moved the Pistons’ season-high win streak to a season-best five in a row.

Since then, Detroit has dropped four consecutive contests, including Sunday’s 116-108 home defeat to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Should the Sixers win Monday, they would beat the Pistons in a season series in consecutive years for the first time dating all the way back to the 1984-85 and 1985-86 campaigns. Complicating matters for Detroit is that All-Star Blake Griffin is scheduled to be given off Monday for rest.

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