Doc Rivers doesn’t care about his opponent’s record. He’s happy with any road victory, even if there are no fans in the stands.
The Philadelphia 76ers coach was thrilled to see his team pull off a 114-110 victory at Detroit on Saturday. The Pistons have the NBA’s worst record at 3-13 but Rivers wasn’t fazed by the close call. He’d like to witness a repeat when the teams meet again at Detroit on Monday.
“Just because a team’s record is bad doesn’t mean you’re going to win by 30,” he said. “You win by one, you take the win. Look at some of the Pistons’ losses, a lot of them are close games. So that’s why it’s dangerous to look at records. But we do have to play better on the road. That’s one of our goals and we need to start doing it.”
The Sixers, who are 3-4 away from home, carry a three-game winning streak into the rematch. Joel Embiid had another big game, pouring in 33 points and hitting two clutch free throws with his team leading by two with 7.2 seconds left. Embiid scored a combined 80 points in two victories over Boston in his team’s previous two games.
Ben Simmons scored a season-high 20 points, building off his 11-point fourth quarter in the second game against the Celtics.
“His floor game has been so good and that’s what we need from him,” Rivers said. “When he plays the floor game (well), all the other stuff will happen.”
Simmons’ backcourt partner, Seth Curry, scored 14 points despite missing all three of his three-point attempts. Curry was playing his second game since sitting out two weeks due to the league’s health and safety protocols.
“Seth is so much more than a three-point shooter,” Rivers said. “He’s really terrific in pick-and-rolls, coming off picks and making plays.”
The Pistons are coming off a frustrating week in which they went 0-4 when they could have easily gone 4-0. They squandered a 19-point lead to Miami, then blew a 17-point, fourth-quarter lead at Atlanta.
They dropped a one-point decision to Houston before the Sixers came to town.
The silver lining for Detroit on Saturday was the play of young reserves Svi Mykhailiuk and Sekou Doumbouya. They combined for 28 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“Our record stinks at 3 and 13 and I’m not here to lose,” coach Dwane Casey said. “But there’s a lot of growth, a lot of positive things with Sekou and Svi. I love the way those two came in.”
Casey has been criticized for not playing Doumbouya, a first-round pick in 2019, more often. Doumbouya got a chance to play on Saturday with Blake Griffin getting the night off due to injury management.
“I’m happy and proud of him, the way he came in and played, defended, rebounded, was out there talking, leading in a positive way,” Casey said. “The future’s going to be very bright for Sekou in this league.”
Griffin and sixth man Derrick Rose, who also sat out due to knee soreness, are expected to play on Monday.
Detroit could also use a bounce-back game from Jerami Grant. After scoring 20 or more points for 14 consecutive games, he was held to 11 points on 3-for-19 shooting.
–Field Level Media