If I had called you up on Sunday at 5:59 P.M. and said the Sixers will be heading home on Friday with the series tied 1-1 every single one of you would've been ecstatic. Every player, coach and exec with the team would have been as well. This is the way we have to look at things right now. Game 2 counts as one in the loss column, just as much as game 1 counts as one in the win column. Even, Stephen.
Obviously, the Sixers need to get back to what they did well in game 1 and stay away from the hiccups from game 2. Think of this series as a boxing match. The Sixers came out in round one and knocked the Pistons down, the Pistons used different tactics to even things up in the second round, now the series begins again.
There are a couple of key areas the Sixers need to address, namely defensive rebounding and offensive execution. The win masked the problem a little in game 1, but the Pistons' offensive rebounding has been killing them throughout both games. On 50 missed field goals in game 1, the Pistons collected 20 offensive rebounds (40%). In game two, the Pistons only missed 37 shots, but grabbed 14 of those boards (38%). Those numbers are astounding, and shoring up the defensive rebounding has to be priority number one for Mo Cheeks heading into game 3. I'm beating a dead drum here, but inserting Reggie Evans into the starting lineup for Willie Green, moving Thad to the 3 and Iguodala to the 2 would go a long way toward fixing this problem.
Setting aside the lineup issues, the offense needs to find a way to be more consistent. Andre Iguodala has been absolutely blanketed by Tayshaun Prince's length and aggressive double teams. Contrary to popular belief, the Sixers don't need Andre Iguodala to score 20 points for them to compete. They don't need him to take 15-20 shots. Yes, he's been their best scoring threat all year long, but he hasn't been their only threat and he probably hasn't been their most efficient threat. Mo needs to find a way to use Detroit's defensive decisions to his advantage. Thad Young is one possible answer. The kid shot 5/8 in game 1 and 5/10 in game 2, with just about all of his production coming in the first quarter of each game. For the most part, he's had Antonio McDyess on him, which is a mismatch. McDyess doesn't have the foot speed to keep Thad from getting to the hoop in a position to score. The Sixers need to use this. Have Thad go set the pick for Iguodala on the wing, making McDyess the guy who doubles, which then should leave Thad open for a 15-foot baseline jumper which he's been knocking down with regularity. Running the offense through Thad on the opposite side of the floor is another option. The kid has been an extremely efficient scorer, both inside and from the perimeter, he's obviously not afraid of the big stage of the playoffs, make him the number one option for stretches of time, make the defense react accordingly.
Andre Miller and Andre Iguodala have been on the receiving end of countless double teams, they continually try to dribble out of them. While they've done a good job of not turning the ball over, they haven't made Detroit pay. Someone needs to flash to the foul line or above for an outlet pass and people need to cut off the ball. A double team leaves someone wide open by definition, quick ball movement will translate into easy hoops.
As disappointing as yesterday's game was, we need to keep in mind that the Sixers can play much better than they did last night, and they will. Detroit was beyond focused, on their home court and all they really did was salvage a split of the first two games. If Mo Cheeks can hammer this home to his team in practice today, they should be able to come out tomorrow and execute their own game plan in front of what I hope turns out to be a great crowd at the Wach. Own the defensive boards, play smarter on offense (less jumpers for Iguodala). Those two things should make all the difference.