PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 02: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Wells Fargo Center on January 02, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Early Sunday afternoon hoops for the Philadelphia 76ers in Detroit as they faced the lowly Pistons and the odd start time didn’t seem to affect their play. The Sixers did what they were supposed to do against a bad squad, jumping on them early and never letting up as they led by as much as 23. The final score was not a reflection of how the game played out. The 76ers were in control the entire time.

Here are a few things that stood out:

  • What James Harden is capable of on a basketball court is well documented. He can drive you crazy at times with the high turnover games and questionable shot selection. But man can he control the game. Harden was one assist shy of a triple-double by halftime as Philadelphia led, 71-54. The 10-time All-Star posted 13 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists by the break. he finished with 20, 11 and 11 while committing just one turnover in 28 minutes. Effortless for the future Hall of Famer.
  • Montrezl Harrell started at the 5 with both Joel Embiid (left foot soreness) and PJ Tucker (non-Covid illness) out for the day. And he has played really good basketball over the last three games with Embiid out over that time. Steady production from the backup big as he dropped 19 in an OT win over Indiana on Wednesday, 17 versus Chicago on Friday, and 20 against the Pistons. Let’s see if this leads to more consistent minutes once Embiid returns.
  • Matisse Thybulle played close to 30 minutes and collected five steals – a possible preview of things to come as the Sixers embark on a five-game roadie that will feature a lot of good wings along the trip.
  • Paul Reed pulled in eight offensive rebounds as the primary backup 5. He finished the afternoon with a team-high 12 boards in his extended minutes, including 16 points. As a result of his work on the offensive glass, Philadelphia won the second chance points battle, 20-6.

Next up for the Sixers will be on Tuesday at The Center for the second meeting with the Pistons as part of their home and home series. Philadelphia has won the 1st two meetings and will look to sweep the overall season series at home.