Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sixers face elimination after Pistons cruise to 3-2 series lead

The Sixers may look back to Game Four and ask what could have been. The Sixers held a 10 point halftime lead over the Pistons only to watch Detroit come back and dominate them in the second half to pull out the win. Game Five was more of the same as the Pistons controlled the play, winning 98-81, and showed why they are the championship contender and the Sixers are merely first round fodder.

The Pistons got out to a big early lead and never looked back, leading the game by double digits for most of the way. The Sixers couldn't slow down their four pronged attack of Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton. Wallace, who actually looked focused on playing basketball, finished with 19 points. Prince, who continues to cause match-up problems for the Sixers, netted 17 points. Billups and Hamilton did an excellent job of limiting turnovers while creating plays for their teammates. Billups finished with 21 points and 12 assists while Hamilton notched 20 points.

The Sixers once again struggled to score against the Pistons' pressure defense. Only three players managed to score at least 10 points. On paper, Andre Iguodala played his best game of the series, shooting 8 of 13 from the field for 21 points and adding 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Look closer at how he played and you notice how many times he turned the ball over and how frustrated he was trying to make things happen all on his own. For the second game in a row, Andre Miller also came up small. He is the catalyst for this team and when he isn't playing at a high level, everyone struggles. If the Sixers are going to have any chance of coming back in this series, it will be on Miller to make it happen.

The series returns to Philadelphia on Thursday. The Sixers probably blew their best chance to win this series when they faded at the end of Game Four, but they are by no means done. The Pistons have them up against the ropes, but Detroit is not the kind of team who will go in for the kill. They have a tendency to lose focus and let a team hang around, so the Sixers are not finished yet. The Sixers have to find a way to steal Game Six and force the series back to Detroit for a Game Seven where anything can happen. They just have to hope that Rasheed Wallace and the rest of the group get distracted looking past the Sixers and at their second round opponent, the Orlando Magic, who finished off the Toronto Raptors last night.

No matter what happens in Game Six, the Sixers should be proud for how far them have come this season. Pushing a team like Detroit to play their best basketball in order to win is an accomplishment for this up and coming team. Let's just hope they find a way to prolong this season a little longer.

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