Joel Embiid Andre Drummond

Embiid vs. Drummond Lives Up To The Hype, Kinda

“No disrespect, but he can’t shoot. I just gotta worry about the defensive coverages that we have, they have a lot of down screens, backside action, and he’s always the roller so he gets lots of lobs and stuff.”

That is the verbage Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid used to describe Detroit Pistons centerpiece Andre Drummond coming into the two’s much hyped Saturday night matchup. Despite an up-and-down performance from Embiid, the Sixers backed up their big man’s equally big talk with a 108-103 victory over the Pistons in Philly, improving their record to 14-9 on the season.

The Embiid – Drummond rivalry has been a talking point for awhile now, starting earlier this season when Joel dropped 30 points on 11-for-15 shooting on Drummond and the Pistons en route to a Sixers victory in Detroit, 97-86. The real juice here came after the game though – with Embiid saying that Drummond “doesn’t play defense” after the game, a remark that absolutely got back to Drummond.

Embiid has made it a habit of getting under his fellow big man’s skin. We’ve seen him beef to varying degrees with Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green and Hassan Whiteside, but it always comes back to one indisputable fact: Joel is better than all these dudes, and he knows it. Embiid plays with a type of skill, dominance and arrogance that it looks like Hakeem, Shaq and Kobe were smashed together.

Opposing bigs are getting sick of not only getting toasted, but then having to hear about it for 48 minutes from Embiid, then for the next day or so on Twitter. You can probably count Drummond in that group.

Ultimately, the Embiid and Drummond battle was something of a letdown. It lived up to the billing of an old school big man battle, only we sometimes forget that old school big man battles… aren’t very fun to watch! They played each other physically, but they also both played with fouls throughout the game and never really developed any offensive flow because of it.

(The real star of this game: Robert Covington, who knocked down six three’s for the Sixers and continued his generally-awesome play, but the people didn’t come to hear about no Robert Covington!)

To his credit, Drummond might have even managed to edge his rival Embiid on this occasion. Joel finished with “just” 25 points and ten rebounds, but turned it over six times (his second most in a game this season) and shot a shaky 7-for-21 from the field.

The real highlight of the night: Drummond fouling out with two minutes to go….and Embiid escorting him and the Pistons to the exits.

Don’t worry kids, they dapped up after the game, because Sportsmanship: Pass it on. 

Embiid’s relatively mundane performance might have been due to the foul trouble It might have been because he was too fired up to face Drummond. Maybe it was Detroit’s willingness to help off of Ben Simmons and clog the post area (it was mostly this one). Regardless, this wasn’t Embiid’s best performance, and it wasn’t his teammate and fellow superhero Simmons either.

Simmons finished just 2-for-6 from the field for just 5 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Unlike the Washington Wizards strategy Philly’s last time out, the Pistons elected not to hack-a-shaq the 56 percent free throw shooter Simmons, only sending him to the line twice, where he went 50 percent.

Detroits best reason for not fouling Simmons, who went 15-for-29 from the line in the Wizard’s game: They didn’t have to. he really wasn’t that effective.

It was a relatively weak performance from who has become the heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year, with the Pistons and Stanley Johnson really keying in on his lack of range. Simmons’ shooting woes are well documented, 97.5 percent of his field goal attempts this season are coming inside of the arc (aka- all of them), and teams are beginning to try and make him pay for it.

Luckily for both he and the Sixers, he’s still mostly able to get his shot and create for others. Not against this Detroit defense though, which sat deep off him and trusted the rim protection provided by Drummond to clog up passing lanes. The angles Simmons usually finds to exploit your defense simply washed up.

Simmons is great and is still only 21-years-old, plus most teams can’t stop him anyway, but eventually we’re going to see a lot more performances like this one from him if he doesn’t develop more of a perimeter attack.

Right now, he can get away without it. Next season? Fine. Year after that? Who knows. But once the expectation around the Sixers shifts from “the process worked!” to “the process has to win some rings”, it’s gonna have to change and change quickly, because you aren’t winning a championship in the modern NBA if your superstars can’t shoot.

The true highlight of the evening, however, was undoubtedly the unfiltered five minutes of Boban Marjanovic vs Joel at the end of the first half. A show stealer if there ever was one!

The Sixers and Pistons both get the day off Sunday before resuming play on Monday. Philly will stay home and face the lowly Phoenix Suns, while Detroit will continue their road trip and head out west to play the San Antonio Spurs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *