Sixers Won't Depart Quietly

It's hard to find anybody who feels the Sixers can extend their playoff series to a seventh game.

The fans don't seem to be too excited about things, especially since as of late Wednesday, only 12,500 tickets were sold for the game.

If the Sixers have done nothing else this year, they have at least earned respect for never quitting. And if their season ends on Thursday against the Pistons, it probably will be because they were beaten by the better team.

What would be surprising is if the Sixers bow out meekly. They have scrapped all season and while they looked tired and demoralized in Tuesday's 98-81 win, their history suggests that they can bounce back.

That doesn't mean they can win the game, but it would be surprising if they don't put out a first-rate effort.'

As for winning, they need a better performance from Samuel Dalembert. While so much attention has been paid to the struggles of Andre Iguodala, Dalembert has been outplayed this series by Rasheed Wallace.

Another key will be getting a spark off the bench. And in that respect one of the few promising signs from Tuesday's loss was the play of Lou Wililams, who had 16 points and shot 6 for 9. Williams is now 9 for 14 in his last two games and he has adjusted to the physical play of the series and how defenders aren't making it easy for him to get to the basket.

Most of all, it's interesting to hear coach Maurice Cheeks talk about the Sixers' need to defend the screen and roll better Haven't we been hearing that all season?

While getting off to a good start is sometimes overrated, the Sixers must have it happen in Game 6. The last game was lost in the first quarter when the Sixers fell behind 35-21 and never recovered.

The Detroit players have talked about the importance of knocking the Sixers out now and not allowing this series to extend to seven games.

The Pistons seem determined, but the Sixers have surprised observers all season. They are built on grit and determination and those qualities don't allow a team to simply fold. Which is why the feeling persists that nothing will come easy for the Pistons in Game 6, while the possibility of a Game 7 can't be discounted, although few seem to believe it can happen.