Friday, April 25, 2008

That's more like it: Sixers dominate Pistons to take series lead

(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Detroit Pistons are an elite team that won 59 games in the regular season and many experts considered them a strong candidate to make the NBA Finals. The Sixers finished the season below .500 and were considered lucky to even be participating in postseason play.

None of those things mattered tonight, as the two teams seemed to switch roles: the Sixers completely dominated the Pistons, who looked listless and lifeless as they struggled to keep up. The Pistons have an incredible amount of playoff experience, and the young Sixers are just getting their feet wet, yet it was the Sixers who showed playoff moxie and the ability to play sound defense and hit clutch shots in their 95-75 beatdown of the Pistons. The win gives the Sixers a surprising 2-1 series lead.

The Pistons seemed to have a good dame plan: shut down Andre Iguodala and make the Sixer supporting cast beat them. Perhaps they underestimated just how good the supporting cast is. While Iguodala was hounded all night and managed just 10 points on 2 of 9 shooting, six other Sixers managed to score at least 8 points, including Samuel Dalembert's team high 22. The Sixers put forth a total team effort: Andre Miller had 21 points and 6 assists, Thaddeus Young notched 10 points and energy-man Reggie Evans had 9 points and 5 rebounds. Dalembert also added 16 rebounds and 2 blocks on the night.

Detroit never really got going and only had three players finish in double figures. Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, who finished with 23 and 18 points respectively, were the only two players who seemed to be focused on the game. Rasheed Wallace was once again more interested in arguing with the refs and mixing it up with Reggie Evans and he finished with a pitiful 2 points on 1 of 6 shooting.

There will probably be some argument as to whether the Sixers won this game by playing tenacious defense and out-hustling the Pistons or whether the Pistons simply didn't feel like playing. Detroit, known for their mental lapses, basically took the night off. They focused a lot of their energy on shadowing and frustrating Andre Iguodala but they neglected to actually play defense on anybody else. On the other end, the Sixers defense definitely played a part in keeping the Pistons under 80 points, but there was definitely a lack of effort on Detroit's part.

Even the most jaded Sixer fan has to believe now. The Sixers proved that game one was no fluke as they played their best game of the series tonight. They came right out of the gate with lots of energy, feeding off the home crowd and hustling for every loose ball and grabbing every rebound. They fastbreaked the Pistons into oblivion, scoring 29 fast break points created from forcing the Pistons into 23 turnovers, Detroit's season high. If the Sixers come out with the same intensity next game, regardless of whether the Pistons decide to show up, we could be looking at one of the biggest playoff upsets ever.

This scrappy Sixers team has quickly found a place in the Philadelphia sports fan's heart. They are the ultimate underdog that is taking it to the mighty behemoth. They are making basketball fun again in Philly, something that it hasn't been for several years. Let's see if the thrill ride continues Sunday in Game Four.

Video highlights courtesy of Comcast SportsNet:


DRDeSouza said...

Definitely a great win for the Sixers. Awesome to see Reggie Evans asking for the crowd to get loud, reminiscent of #3. Watching on TV it seemed like the crowd wasn't really into the game until the third quarter and then half of the place was empty in the last two minutes. That seemed really weak to me and I expected more from Sixer fans. Maybe it was different being in the building.

On another note, great blog. Started reading a few months ago and I come back everyday. Keep it up!

EnriqueFed said...

Agreed on the Sixers fans being disappointing. First playoff game in years and we're dominating the Pistons and they can't get more excited than that??

Thanks for being a loyal reader.