Of the five nighttime games on the Saturday NBA slate, none should be more exciting than the Detroit Pistons at the Philadelphia 76ers. Why? Because Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond have it out for one another.
You read that correctly. Two of the league’s premier big men will go head-to-head for the second time this season. And after the fireworks caused in Game 1 — a double-digit 76ers victory — this big man battle is one you don’t want to miss.
How did we get here?
In just the fourth game of the season, the 76ers traveled to Detroit, and Embiid had his way with Drummond, as well as every other player Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy threw at him.
Philly’s mercurial big man ran up 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. Many of those baskets were on Drummond’s watch.
How was he able to score so much on the Pistons? Embiid watched film of Drummond’s defense, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, and came to a conclusion: there was none.
"Defensively, he doesn't play any defense," Embiid said. "When we started the game, he was being aggressive and he was talking, too. ... So what I was like [in my mind], 'You want to do that? I'm going to kick your [butt] then.' So that's what I did."
Drummond caught wind of Embiid’s comments and responded on Twitter: “See you Dec 2nd,” with the smirking face emoji.
See you Dec 2nd— Andre Drummond (@AndreDrummond) October 24, 2017
Drummond then did an interview on NBA TV, and he explained why he’s looking forward to the rematch.
“You’ve gotta respect the man’s game. He’s a hell of a player,” Drummond said of Embiid. “But he’s gotta see me three or four more times for the rest of the season, so it’s not gonna happen more than once.”
Fast forward to Dec. 2, and they’re back at it again
Embiid is known to trash talk his opponents. He held nothing back during morning shootaround hours ahead of Saturday night’s matchup.
“No disrespect, but he can’t shoot,” Embiid said of Drummond, “so I just have to worry about the defensive coverages that we have as a team. And they run a lot of down screens, back-side action, and he’s always the roller so he gets a lot of lobs. So as a team, we’ve gotta make sure that doesn’t happen and we’ve gotta close out on shooters, too.”
Drummond, who took the high road earlier, responded through Fox Sports Detroit’s Johnny Kane. In a nutshell? He said Embiid is too fragile to be in a conversation with him.
“I mean, you can’t really have a conversation with a man who can’t play a back-to-back,” Drummon said. The 76ers do not allow Embiid to play in the second of back-to-back games because of his injury history. “I’ve been playing for six years and I’ve missed maybe four-five games. So when he can play a whole season without taking a rest, he can come talk to me.”
The 76ers and Pistons go head-to-head for the second time this season on Saturday, and Embiid and Drummond’s back-and-forth has given this game more life than any others on the docket. And if their game on the court is anywhere near as good as their talk off of it, the fans will come out big winners no matter what the outcome is.