|Butler-led Sixers ready to take on Pistons|
Jimmy Butler is making a difference for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Detroit Pistons will find out how much better the Sixers are with the All-Star swingman in their lineup at Little Caesars Arena on Friday. The teams have already played twice this season but those games came before Philadelphia acquired Butler in a blockbuster trade with Minnesota.
Butler had his highest-scoring game of the season on Wednesday, a 38-point outing in Toronto.
"I think the Jimmy Butler acquisition is ridiculously exciting," coach Brett Brown said. "I thought he was excellent (Wednesday)."
That wasn't enough to beat the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors, who pulled away to a 113-102 victory.
"Not good enough, we didn't win," Butler said of his performance. "I don't give a damn how many points I scored, I want to win."
The Sixers (17-9) won eight of their previous nine games. Brown wants to fix two issues that led to Wednesday's loss -- offensive rebounding and turnovers. The Raptors scored 49 points on second-chance opportunities and Sixers giveaways.
"You look at the discrepancy of just shot attempts, it's for those reasons," Brown said. "There were some great signs out there. It's December 5th, the league's best team, but we leave disappointed."
The Sixers split their first two meetings with the Pistons. Detroit star power forward Blake Griffin scored 50 points in a 133-132 overtime victory on Oct. 23. Center Joel Embiid scored 39 points in a 109-99 Sixers home victory on Nov. 3.
Embiid has averaged 36 points and 14 rebounds against Detroit. He has publicly taunted counterpart Andre Drummond on social media and in press conferences. Drummond averaged 11.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in those games.
The Pistons (13-9) have been blown out the past two games following a five-game winning streak. Oklahoma City pounded them 110-83 on Monday and Milwaukee thumped them 115-92 on Wednesday.
Head coach Dwayne Casey believes opponents are taking Detroit more seriously now and his team needs to get tougher.
"We have the bullseye on us now," he said. "When you're in the middle part of that playoff race, everybody is fighting for something. These next gauntlet games will be like that. Our fight level has to go up."
The Pistons shot just 36.5 percent in Milwaukee and got frustrated in the early going when the Bucks took control. That led to defensive breakdowns.
"If we're going to play this style of play, our effort on the defensive end is non-negotiable," Casey said. "Not your effort, but your focus and doing what you're supposed to do. Guys are fighting, playing hard, but they need to play smarter, play with more focus and discipline."
The Pistons might be without a pair of key backcourt players. Shooting guard Reggie Bullock missed the Bucks game with a left ankle sprain and is questionable on Friday. Backup point guard Ish Smith suffered a right groin injury on Wednesday and will sit out.
Langston Galloway started in place of Bullock but scored just five points in 23 minutes.
"We got some great looks, we just didn't knock them down," Galloway said. "Everybody just has to stay confident, be ready, continue to lock in for the next game, and try to come out with a lot more energy."