Tonight is the first swing game of the series, and it's also the first home playoff game for the Sixers in three years. Unfortunately, I just checked the Sixers site and there are still tickets available. That's a shame. They really need a good, boisterous crowd backing them tonight, they've earned it.
My skin started tingling about a half hour ago. My workday seems to be stretching out forever. Tonight, we're going to find out what the Sixers are made of. They've punched, they've taken a counter punch, now things should normalize a little bit. Plenty of lessons were taught in game 2, now we have to see if the Sixers actually learned them. In game 2 we saw some out-of-the-box coaching from Mo designed to get Iguodala into the flow of the offense. For a stretch, Iguodala played the point with Green, Thad, Reggie and Sam filling out the other four spots on the floor. Not ideal, but a good sign. Tonight, I think the key on offense won't be whether Iguodala can score, but how the Sixers make the Pistons pay for focusing so much attention on him.
At the core, though, the Sixers problems haven't really been on the offensive side of the ball. They've scored enough to win. They've defended pretty well too, even in game 2. The biggest problem has been second-chance opportunities. We've talked about big lineups, boxing out, etc. but for the Sixers to turn this stat around one player needs to step up above everyone else, and that's Samuel Dalembert. We've seen him dominate games with his defense and board work. It's an attitude thing with Sammy. We saw it in the third and fourth quarters of game 1 when he came out and aggressively fronted Rasheed Wallace, then owned the boards on all misses. He needs to be aggressive and smart tonight. Double-digit rebounds from Dalembert would go a long way toward fixing this problem. I'm expecting big things from Sammy.
I don't think we're going to do a live blog tonight, if you guys really want it, say something in the comments of this post. Instead, I was planning to put up a post with the lineups before the game and another recapping the first half at halftime. We can keep the conversation going in the comments.
Here are a few links to get you through the rest of your day...