Sixers Make Huge Opening Statement

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – The 76ers were once again aided by a mentality that never allows them to die. At least not for too long.

Raise your hand if you truly felt that down by 15 midway through the third quarter that the Sixers had a puncher’s chance at beating the Detroit Pistons.

Sunday’s 90-86 win in Game 1 over the Detroit Pistons would have been a surprise any way it happened. The fact that the game appeared out of reach against one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, made it more impressive.

What one has to admire is the team-oriented attitude of the players.

Nobody was probably more disappointed than Reggie Evans for not getting the start against the Pistons. He’s a veteran who had the most playoff experience of the starters – 16 games entering last night. Evans had to give way to rookie Thaddeus Young. And isn’t it fitting that Young gave the Sixers a serious spark in the first quarter and Evans took charge in the fourth period.

This might have been Evans’ best all-around game, especially considering the stakes and the opponent. He had 11 points, 14 rebounds and made scored six of the biggest points of the season in the fourth quarter.

The fact that the Sixers never quit, is what has made them so appealing to the fans. We’re sure there will be a few fans out there who no doubt think the Sixers can win the series. What matters is that the Sixers probably think they can win it, even though there are many of us out there who remain skeptical.

Even the biggest skeptic had to be impressed by the Sixers’ grit. The Sixers also went against conventional wisdom by attempting to run in the playoffs against the Pistons. The Sixers had 16 fast break points (compared to 12 for Detroit). Considering that the Sixers only had 26 fast break points in their first three games against Detroit, that’s impressive (The fourth game with Detroit, the Pistons played many subs).

So the Sixers ran and clawed and fought and to the surprise of man, they won. And now what appeared to be just a formality of a series, could turn into a dogfight. The Sixers all of a sudden can be loose for Game 2 on Wednesday, while the stakes have dramatically increased for the Pistons.

"It's a must win game Wednesday for us," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said.

And who would have thought that Detroit would be saying that after just one game?