If it was going to happen, this was going to be the script. Keep it close through three, win it with defense in the fourth. Keep in mind this is a long series. Keep in mind that Detroit still has a huge experience advantage. Keep in mind that Chauncey choked from the line in the fourth, that probably won't happen again. Keep all of that in mind and let out a big smile. Everything we thought we knew about this team is true
If you took part in the live blog first I'd like to apologize for the salty language. Second, I'd like to thank all of you because that was one of the most enjoyable games I've watched in a long time. Having Boney and JoeJoeJoe and even a couple of Pistons' trolls gave it a nice balance and it was great celebrating with you guys after the final buzzer.
Now, about the game. Mo basically used a 7-man rotation, Carney and Smith combined for 12 minutes and had a minimal effect. It was Andre, Andre, Willie, Thad, Sammy, Reggie and Lou. Each had huge moments in the game, each had tough stretches. As a unit, they got the job done in spectacular fashion.
Two stretches defined this game. The first came in the third quarter when Sammy picked up his 4th personal foul with 7:30 left in the quarter and the Sixers trailing by 9 points. Reggie Evans came in and we all knew this was it. If the Sixers could find some way to stay in reach they'd have a chance in the fourth. If Detroit stepped on the gas, the game was over. The Sixers outscored the Pistons 17-15 over the rest of the quarter and put the team in a position to complete their comeback in the fourth.
The entire fourth quarter was the second stretch. This team knows how to finish games. They know how to finish games in hostile environments. They know how to finish games against good, experienced teams. They learned how to do this over the past two months while Detroit was busy resting their starters. The Sixers held the Pistons to 16 points in the fourth quarter. 16. In fact, they turned up their defensive intensity in every quarter, the Pistons scored 27 in the first, 24 in the second, 19 in the third and 16 in the fourth.
The Pistons bread and butter was taken away from them. Reggie Evans and Sam Dalembert took turns on Rasheed Wallace who was beyond dominant in the first half. Iguodala put shackles on Billups down the stretch. On offense, they scratched and clawed their way through, even relying on Reggie Evans for a stretch in the fourth.
As we watched the game, there were a lot of cries against Iguodala handling the ball in the fourth, and rightly so. Andre had a horrible shooting night (4/16) but what you may not realize is that he dominated this game in just about every other area. He nearly finished with a triple double, his D on Billups, Prince and Billups was outstanding and you never saw him sulk. You never saw him complaining to the refs. He went out there and played his ass off. He gets a big chunk of credit for this win.
One man, however, deserves the lion's share of the credit, and that's Mo Cheeks. He recognized the hot hand (Evans), he motivated this team time and time again. He used his timeouts wisely, and he out-coached Flilp Saunders. No doubt about it.
I'm sure I missed a ton, the game is still running through my mind, as are the possibilities. Leave your thoughts in the comments and if you're worried about the Sixers having a letdown in game two, take a look at the image below. The number 7 seed went into Detroit and beat the Pistons at their own game, and all they rate is a little link below a big picture of Pau Gasol on ESPN's home page.Player of The Game:
Reggie Evans, 32 minutes, 11 points, 14 rebounds.Series:
Sixers lead 1-0, now own home-court advantage.