Storylines to watch as Sixers begin relatively light final stretch


With seven regular-season games left, the Sixers need four more wins for their first 50-victory year since 2018-19. 

Doc Rivers has earned eight 50-win seasons as a head coach. In 72-game campaigns the last two years, his teams finished with 49 wins.

Here are the essentials for Thursday night’s meeting between the 46-29 Sixers and 20-56 Pistons: 

  • When: 7 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 6:15 p.m. 
  • Where: Little Caesars Arena 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: and the MyTeams app 

And here are storylines to watch: 

Future-oriented Pistons 

The Sixers will face Detroit twice down the stretch. Even if the Sixers sit key players for their regular-season finale, we imagine the team will be favored in both matchups. Overall, the Sixers' remaining schedule is the NBA's easiest, per Tankathon. 

The Pistons have ruled Jerami Grant (left calf strain) and Hamidou Diallo (left index finger avulsion fracture) out for the season. Starting point guard Cory Joseph was listed as questionable with a lumbar spine strain. When the Sixers beat Detroit in November, Grant scored 22 first-half points. That was a rare occasion this year in which Joel Embiid was available but didn’t lead the Sixers in scoring; Seth Curry posted a team-high 23 points. 

Delaware Blue Coats regular and January Sixers call-up Braxton Key has been part of the Pistons’ rotation after signing a 10-day contract last week. It’s a nice opportunity for the 25-year-old forward to raise his NBA stock on a team not at all desperate for late-season wins. 

Cunningham coming in hot 

No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham’s first game against the Sixers was the third of his NBA career. He posted his first double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) but shot just 4 for 17 from the floor. 

Cunningham should enter Thursday’s meeting with more confidence. In a loss Tuesday to the Nets, he scored a rookie-high 34 points, 29 of them after halftime.

Though the Sixers won’t need to worry about Grant, Saddiq Bey is a notable Pistons scoring threat. The second-year Villanova product exploded for 51 points on March 17 against the Magic and has averaged 16.3 this season. Shake Milton did well as the primary defender on Bey back in November.  

Harris letting it fly 

Tobias Harris recorded 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three steals in the Sixers' loss Tuesday to the Bucks. 

He took a season-high eight three-pointers and only made two, but Harris thought he played with the right approach. 

“Just being aggressive out there,” Harris said. “I thought I had some great looks, and they all felt good from three. Some of them didn’t fall, but the goal is just keep shooting with the same amount of confidence and they will fall. But other than that, when I’m out there with different lineups, just finding ways to be aggressive and taking what the defense is giving me at different times in the game. It’s all a progression, and really just staying in this type of flow and mindset.”

Since James Harden’s Sixers debut on Feb. 25, Harris has attempted 4.4 catch-and-shoot threes per game, up from 2.7 through his first 49 games. He’s made 34.7 percent of those looks, nearly identical to his pre-debut mark. 

In just 380 minutes, Georges Niang has fired 97 catch-and-shoot triples since Harden debuted. That number ranks ninth in the NBA and first among players with under 500 minutes. 

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