DETROIT – Brett Brown talked as if the 76ers were going to be tested.
The Sixers’ coach had mentioned that Wednesday’s contest was an elimination game for the Detroit Pistons. With that, he said his squad was going to be challenged by a team battling for its playoff life.
Brown said it was going to be a playoff-type game.
He was only right about one thing: The Pistons were officially eliminated from the postseason at the hands of the Sixers, 115-108.
Not only did the Sixers beat the Pistons, they dominated the first three quarters. The Sixers scored at ease, shooting 49.4 percent from the field for the game. They also harassed the Pistons into 13 first-half turnovers and 18 overall, which led to 26 points.
In the process, Sixers extended their winning streak to 12 games, the first time they have won 12 straight since Jan. 13 to Feb. 5, 1990.
But the biggest thing the Sixers did on this night was to match the Cleveland Cavaliers’ record at 48-30. But the Cavaliers still hold the third seed in the Eastern Conference since they hold the tiebreaker over Sixers. Cleveland hosts the Washington Wizards on Thursday before Friday’s much-anticipated showdown with the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center. That game will go a long way to determining who gets the conference’s third seed in the playoffs.
The Sixers can only hope that JJ Redick can duplicate Wednesday’s performance against the Cavs.
Redick flat-out tormented the Pistons (37-41). The shooting guard had 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting. He made 5 of 7 three-pointers. He also had six assists, one shy of the season high he set against the Pistons on Dec. 2.
He also established a career-best streak of six consecutive games with at least 19 points. And this was the sixth time he scored at least 25 points this season, his first since Dec. 12.
“I just feel like I’m in a good rhythm right now,” Redick said.
Reserve guard Marco Belinelli had 19 points. Ben Simmons finished with 16 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova had 13 points and 11 rebounds. Robert Covington (12 points, three steals and two blocks) and reserve Richaun Holmes (11 points) were the Sixers’ other double-digit scorers. Amir Johnson had nine points and 10 rebounds.
Andre Drummond had 13 points and 16 rebounds for the Pistons. Anthony Tolliver recorded a season-high-tying 25 points.
The Sixers, who beat Brooklyn on Tuesday, were sluggish early, missing five of their first six shots. However, they woke up and went on to take a 36-28 advantage into the second quarter thanks to Redick. He scored 13 of his points on 5-for-6 shooting in the first quarter. The 33-year-old was 3-for-4 on three-pointers. On this night, he filled the void of sidelined standouts Joel Embiid and Dario Saric.
“He’s been huge lately,” Simmons said. “Especially with Dario and Joel out, he’s been stepping up. I think a lot of guys have been playing well, knowing that we need a lot more from everybody as individuals.”
The Sixers opened up a 19-point cushion in the second quarter. But they were sloppy in the fourth quarter, turning the ball over five times. That enabled the Pistons to pull within six points (113-107) on Reggie Bullock’s three-pointer with 21.7 seconds left.
Embiid missed his fourth consecutive game after fracturing the orbital bone near his left eye and suffering a concussion last Wednesday against the New York Knicks. Saric missed his third with cellulitis, a bacterial infection, in his right elbow. The Sixers hope he returns Friday night against the Cavaliers.
“We obviously look forward to having him in what’s going to be an incredible atmosphere back in Philadelphia when we play Cleveland,” Brown said. “But [Wednesday we went] on the road under the circumstances [of not having Saric and Embiid]. The thing that most stands out is, I think, the culture of this team and the [chemistry] that this team has is not to be denied.”
The Sixers swept the season series with the Pistons 4-0.