There are plenty of reasons to keep our heads up after tonight's thrashing at the Palace, but we'll get into that tomorrow. Had the Sixers been blown out in game 1 and bounced back with a stunner in game 2 I'd probably feel a lot better about heading home 1-1. Once I've slept on it, I'm sure my perspective will brighten, but for now, there are some troubling things that we need to talk about.
There were two things that happened out on the court tonight which have nothing to do with desire, nor talent, nor ability, nor experience. The first was all about attitude and I'm sad to say, strategy. Tonight, the Pistons showed up to play a playoff game. Meaning, no layups defense. They hit every Sixer who dared go to the hoop, and they hit them hard. Nothing was free in the paint all night long. Whether they were called for fouls or not didn't really matter, they were sending a message to the upstart Sixers. The Sixers inability to convert from the line didn't help things on the scoreboard, but that's not really what this was about. In game one, the Sixers made a statement that they wouldn't be pushed around, that they wouldn't roll over and die. In game two the Pistons made an equally bold statement that weren't as soft as they appeared in game one.
The second alarming thing, which didn't quite strike me until JoshG brought it up in the live blog, was that the Sixers folded too early. They were down 17 at the half and 22 after three quarters. At this point, Mo really raised the white flag. That's too early. Maybe a comeback was impossible at that point, but by not sending the starters back out there Mo passed up the opportunity to tell not only the Pistons, but his own roster as well that this team does not quit. I didn't get the feeling that the players felt as though they were playing with house money, but this surrender by Mo certainly had that feeling. Perhaps he could've used the fourth quarter to build some confidence for Andre Iguodala going into game three.
Tonight's game was an example of what the Pistons are capable of when they're firing on all cylinders, hitting all of their shots. It's also an example of the worst the Sixers have to offer. It's left me with some serious doubts about what the Sixers' best will do against a motivated Pistons team, or if the Sixers best is even possible against them.
As I said at the beginning of this post, there are two sides to the coin. The flip side is far less bleak, I'm just going to need some time to muster the energy to write it. Tonight's loss stings, and it will continue to do so. Tomorrow, we'll pick up the pieces and see what positives we can take away from this game and what adjustments need to be made to get this team back on the winning track. Until then, it's 1-1 heading home.Player of The Game: