AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – After losing Sunday's opening playoff game 90-86 to the 76ers, the Detroit Pistons insisted that they didn't take their opponent lightly.
And in this case the Pistons are to be believed. What seemed to happen is that when the Pistons took a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter, Detroit appeared to think the game was over. At that point, the Pistons appeared to relax mentally, while the Sixers kept charging.
"Usually when get leads in the second half it's because we take care of the basketball, get shots we want and our ability to make free throws," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said after Monday's practice. "Those are games we don't let slip away."
"We let it slip away," he said.
The Sixers meanwhile were doing their best not to gloat after the big win. True to their nature, the Sixers didn't give Detroit any bulletin board material.
"We understand the type of players and team Detroit has," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said after Monday's light workout at the Palace of Auburn Hills. "We know it's a long series. It's not like they get rattled after losing a game."
No, but the Pistons were officially angry. The Sixers, meanwhile are loose. It should make for an interesting Game 2 on Wednesday.
So much of the talk the day after the win was what the Pistons didn't do. Detroit shot just 32 for 82 (39 percent) from the field. In the fourth quarter when the Pistons were outscored 27-16 and shot just 4 for 17, the Sixers' young legs seemed to win out.
Sure, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups Rip Hamilton and Antonio McDyess shot a combined 15 for 48 from the field for the game and that won't always happen against the Pistons.
But there is a flip side – no pun intended Pistons – to the thinking that the Sixers won because Detroit didn't capitalize on opportunities.
What if the Sixers had a decent shooting night from Andre Iguodala or Samuel Dalembert who were a combined 6 for 25?
It's not like the Sixers had to play the game of their lives to upset Detroit. The Sixers played far from a perfect game and still won. Remember, Andre Miller was shooting just 4 for 12 before entering the final period. Lou Williams shot 4 for 12 for the entire game.
So even though Detroit didn't play its best game, neither did the Sixers. And they were still able to win.That has to be an encouraging sign.