As the road team in the playoffs, your goal coming in is to take home-court advantage away from the higher seed in the first two games. Get the game back to your own stadium with the series tied 1-1 and you're in the driver's seat. So great, the Sixers have done that, time to relax now, right? Wrong.
If you read the national press today, you'll see that most people are blaming last night's game on Stan Van Gundy. Calling it a choke job by the Magic. "How could they blow an 18-point lead?" In short, still no one believes in the Sixers. To be blunt, I don't think the Orlando Magic believe yet.
They're sitting in their film sessions right now looking at the tape and they're concentrating on the 2nd and third quarters, when they out-scored the Sixers 54-38. They're patting each other on the back and reassuring each other that the first and especially the fourth quarters were nothing more than flukes. They think they're going to show up on Wednesday night and right the ship in a big way, just by doing what they've been doing the entire year.
Maybe Van Gundy has choked down a couple of xanax to calm his nerves and now he's scribbling on a white board, drawing up defensive schemes that will help his team not only slow down Andre Miller, but cut off the swing passes when he's doubled. Maybe he's drawing up new and interesting ways to get his shooters open for threes. Van Gundy doesn't quite strike me as a humble man, so I doubt he's completely throwing away his game plan at this point. I doubt he's sitting in his little room right now figuring out how to best take advantage of Dwight Howard's massive mismatch. Why would he? He coached his team to 59 wins by pretty much treating Howard as an afterthought and one stinking fluke loss isn't going to get him to rethink that strategy.
So, if you're Coach DiLeo, what are you working on in practice right now? If it's me, I'm drilling into my team's head that they still haven't gotten any respect and they still haven't earned it. I'm telling my guys, you know what, that was a lucky win. One game doesn't mean a thing. If you really want respect. If you really want people to stand up and take notice, you don't do it with a miracle comeback in the fourth. You do it by executing this game plan for 48 minutes and blowing Orlando off the floor. You do it by going back to Philly up 2-0.
I'm sure the odds of the Sixers winning the first two games of this series were probably 100 to 1 coming into game 1. Looked at from that perspective, it seems impossible. Standing at the precipice of game two with one win in the bag, it's suddenly within reach. 48 minutes of high-intensity, smart basketball is all it's going to take.
If Orlando has any semblance of a spine, they're going to want to come out and send a message early in game two. Expect their best shot, take it, and punch them right back. Let Orlando know that they won't get anything for free in this series, and every single time they let up, you jam the ball right down their throats. When game two is over, I want Dwight Howard publicly questioning his coach, I want Stan Van Gundy snivelling in a corner somewhere, I want Rafer Alston wishing he was back in Houston where first-round losses were expected. I want Hedo Turkoglu counting down they days until he can opt out.
The Sixers have an opportunity to absolutely bury the Magic, on their own floor. Opportunities like that don't come along very often, but it's right there. Right in front of them. The Magic have a beast, a beast that absolutely dominated game one, and it wasn't enough. If you can take two games from them, on their own floor, they're going to doubt everything. Then you'll have Stan begging Jeff for ideas, you'll have mass panic, and then you can put them away at the Wach. Come home with a 2-0 lead and the Wach will turn back into the FU Center.
Forget 1-1. At this point, coming home 1-1 is a failure. You must win this second game. That has to be your attitude going in. Your back is against the wall until you win that second game, play like it.