Let's face facts, the Palace at Auburn Hills has been very kind to the Sixers lately. They won game 1 on their first round playoff match there last season, they beat the Pistons there the past 2 times they've met in the regular season. Maybe that annoying "De-troit Basket-ball," guy gives them a little motivation. Who knows why, let's just hope the trend continues today.
Let me begin by saying that this Pistons team does not resemble the team who knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs last season in any way shape or form. This team has been pretty much terrible. That is not to say, however, that they can be taken lightly.
Rip Hamilton returned last night against the Wizards and helped the Pistons pull out a 2-point win in Washington, their second in 8 games (the other came against the Clippers.) Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace, the team's other two missing starters, did not return. There was some talk about Iverson returning for tonight's game, but now ESPN is saying he's targeting Tuesday's game against the Cavs to make his return. Wallace is listed as day-to-day, so your guess is as good as mine.
Detroit can still defend, no matter who they have on the floor, and they can absolutely rebound the ball. If the Sixers are going to win this game, and quickly erase the memory of the Bobcats loss, they're going to need to take advantage of mismatches. Rodney Stuckey cannot handle Andre Miller on the blocks. Use it. Antonio McDyess and/or Jason Maxiell have no prayer of dealing with Thad in spae. Use it. If Prince is locked on to Iguodala all night, so be it. Iggy needs to hit his jumpers to draw Prince out to him, and then how about using some ball screens to get the ball going toward the hoop?
Don't be surprised if you see a zone defense from the Pistons. If they do go to the zone, and it's successful, Donyell Marshall should be back on the floor. If you recall, Donyell buried the Pistons in the fourth back in December.
Now, I realize I've spent the past 48 hours detailing every single one of Reggie Evans' shortcomings. But if you were paying attention, you realized that I was saying this team needs to realize when to use Reggie, because there are circumstances when playing him is beneficial. Whether tonight is one of those games is kind of up in the air. Typically, you want to use him against teams that like to slow the ball down and run half-court offense. Detroit absolutely fits that category. The run the second-slowest paced game in the league at 86.8 possessions/game. Here's the problem, though. They slow the ball down and then they can't score. Their team offensive efficiency is 20th in the league, their eFG is horrible. They don't shoot well from the two or the three.
If I was Coach DiLeo, I'd give Reggie limited burn in the first half to see what happens with him in there. Detroit doesn't have a legit point on their roster, so Reggie could very well completely blow up their offense and force a ton of turnovers. Or, he could get the ball out of Stuckey's hands and into the hands of guys who actually know what they're doing with it, like Prince and Hamilton, who could in turn punish the Philly defense that's trying to cover for Reggie being out of position. Considering how poorly Detroit has played on offense, I'd be hesitant to take the risk of playing Reggie for an extended period of time.
I have two keys for tonight's game, and they're both pretty simple:
- Sammy needs to show up, stay out of foul trouble and keep their bigs off the offensive glass.
- Take advantage of Thad's mismatch all night long. He should get 20 shots tonight unless the Pistons switch Prince onto him.
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