Sixers 90, Pistons 86 – How?
Just a few minutes ago the Philadelphia 76ers took down a behemoth, a giant of the Eastern Conference in Game 1 of their seven game series. The Sixers were supposed to make it close, maybe, if they got lucky. The Sixers were supposed to try to run the floor, but inevitably get caught up in the Pistons methodical half court game. Once again, this 76ers team showed us that what is supposed to happen, doesn’t always happen. I sat here thinking of a title for this article, usually it’ll be something clever and witty to describe what happened, but the title I decided on says it all.
The Pistons controlled this game for just about all forty-eight minutes. They ran their half court style of play throughout the first half and their 51-38 advantage at half-time showed it. Rasheed Wallace was an absolute he-man in the first half, filling up the stat sheet in just about every category. There was a particular play towards the end of the half where Wallace tallied about 3 blocks in a span of 10 seconds. Every time the Sixers drove the ball at him, he turned it away with force and arrogance, typical Rasheed Wallace fashion.
The Sixers never strayed from their game plan though, they kept driving it at the interior defense of the Pistons and eventually it wore down ‘Sheed and Co.
As the 3rd quarter started the Sixers went on an 8-0 run, which was sparked by some aggressive defense and the usual fast break game of the Sixers. The problem, that Sixers run was followed by a 6-0 run by the Pistons and the Sixers were essentially back where they started the half. Then Willie Green stepped up and sparked the Sixers when they needed it the most. With a driving finger roll layup and a jumper in the face of Rip Hamilton, the Sixers were within 9. Two more buckets and the Sixers were right within rear view mirror range of the Pistons.
From there on out the Sixers did what they do best, Run and Dunk.
Throughout the 3rd and 4th, the Pistons simply looked out of sync and even seemed like they were making an attempt to play the Sixers fastbreak style. Once they tried this things got ugly for the Pistons. Just about every player on the court for the home team was pulling up and taking awkward and forced jumpers, ones that they simply didn’t need to take. The Sixers used this to grab rebounds and advance the ball up court before the Pistons could get back, resulting in even more fast break points.
Even with as ugly as it got for Detroit, the Sixers could never truly pull away, and that is why this one came down to the final moments.
The Sixers free throw issue continued to bite them in the behind, as Andre Iguodala missed several free throws that could have but the game away. Instead with :11 left on the clock, the game was in the hands of the man who had controlled it throughout the first half. Rasheed Wallace took the inbounds pass, put a move on Samuel Dalembert, but then forced a quick shot close to the basket and the rebound was hauled in by Iggy. He was immediately fouled and sent to the line for two free throws that would seal the game.
This time the "New AI" put the Pistons out for good.
Iguodala finished with a near triple-double, tallying 16 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, but he did only shoot 4-15 from the field. Reggie Evans finished with 11 points and 14 boards, putting up 6 points during a very impressive stretch in the 4th. Meanwhile Andre Miller had 20 points to lead the team and Willie Green also had 17 for the Sixers, who will look to take a 2-0 lead in the series Wednesday Night.
All week the Sixers heard how they didn’t have enough experience to compete with the Pistons, didn’t have enough talent to stop Detroit on offense, and didn’t have enough firepower to overcome Detroit’s stifling defense. The Sixers did what they have done all season and proved the critics wrong by coming in to Detroit and wining there for the first time in the franchise’s playoff history.
Wednesday night they’ll try, and hopefully succeed in make it 2-6 in Detroit.