DETROIT PISTONS v PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Prediction: 4-1 PISTONS
Five straight conference finals and looking for number six, the Pistons open yet another playoff campaign against a very young 76ers squad led by the new AI. As usual, Detroit has stayed under the radar, with no one talking about them again, but lo and behold, they have the 2nd best record in the league. We talk about Big 3’s, well the Pistons Big 3 is pretty darn impressive too. Chauncey, Rip, and Tayshaun, are at it again this year with a cast that FINALLY might bring them past the conference finals.
The 76ers, on the other hand, have quite a few young guns and are run-and-gun with AI manning the helm. They are probably one of the biggest surprises this season as no one would have picked them to be in the playoffs. Yeah, you know you’re one of them! But what’s even better is that they play very good team D. What usually wins out in the playoffs is defense, and in this series, you’re barely going to hit 90 points every game. A lot of people are predicting sweep, but I think the 76ers have it in them to at least take a game from the Pistons.
Pistons Season Summary:
The Pistons have stuck to a very solid starting 5 with McDyess playing center while the other 4 core guys do their thing. They are a pretty good defensive team and can also shoot the lights out. They brought in some new faces, and because they had such a good record and took the 2nd seed so early, they were able to play the young guys and their bench players. How does this help them? They discovered quite a few gems in their bench like Jarvis, Rodney, and Triple A It’s going to help their team a lot when the core guys take a breather and they lose very little with Maxiell, and the 3 guys I just mentioned coming in to spell them. I’m looking at the Pistons getting back to the conference finals, with Orlando being their main concern. Other than that, they will need to pass the Celtics, and for sure, they will give the C’s a run for their money.
76ers Season Summary:
Wow, the Philadelphia 76ers are in the NBA playoffs. Who would have thought it would be possible? When the original AI left, and they brought in… hmm… yeah, who did they bring in for AI? I don’t even remember. In any case, why are they in the playoffs? Simple, they play great team D anchored on two great defensive players, Iguodala and Dalembert. They have a pretty good PG, who screwed me in fantasy basketball by the way, as he played a horrid first 15 games. I traded him then he started playing like the real Andre Miller could. That was when the Sixers started getting on track. And all this came through when their three young guys started playing with the potential that was in them. Louis Williams, Rodney Carney, and Thaddeus Young need to play big against the Pistons if the Sixers are to have any chance at all to win a game. The Pistons will clamp down on AI and that’s about all they need to do to finish off this young squad.
The series matchup this year was tied at 2-2, but the last game had the PIstons rest their big guns and let their bench players go at it. So the only win the Sixers really had was that one point upset at Detroit. That’s the same number I’m predicting the Sixers will get in terms of wins in this series. The most likely would be a sweep, but I think the D is too good for them to be swept. If Dalembert has decent points numbers and Willie Green gets hot from the outside, it’s a very different Sixers squad. But if those two guys don’t play well? Then the Pistons are on their way to the 2nd round very easily. The core guys for the Pistons are money, and they will get their usual numbers even against a defensive minded squad like Philly. But when Green and Dalembert play well, and Louis Williams can come off the bench and provide a more consistent spark, then this may be a nice series to watch. Not because the Sixers can win, but because it might not all be blowout games for the Pistons.
POINT GUARD: CHAUNCEY BILLUPS v ANDRE MILLER
Chauncey is one of the most experienced and best defensive guards in the game and is clutch in pressure situations. I don’t think they will need his last second heroics in this series, but more on his dagger threes that would put the game away amidst a Sixers run. Billups is an unbelievable FT shooter, and you don’t expect him to miss when he shoots the ball. His point totals against this Sixer team is mediocre, and his assist levels are pretty low, but I see him taking the game more seriously against Philly and getting those numbers up very significantly. I’m looking at around 18 pts a game, with 8 dimes.
Andre Miller has a large task in front of him. Not only does he need to try to contain Billups, who is great in the playoffs, but he also has to worry about running a Sixer team against a vaunted Piston defense. Philly is averaging less than 80 points a game, and that last game when they hit 101 was a fluke because the Pistons rested their starters. And just like Chauncey, Miller’s scoring is horrible and his assist totals are as bad against these Pistons. He needs to be able to control the Philly offense and get those assists up for them to have any chance in the series.
SHOOTING GUARD: RICHARD HAMILTON v WILLIE GREEN
Rip Hamilton is one of the best mid-range jump shooters in the NBA. There are only a handful of players who can do what he does, and he has expanded his game to the 3-point line too. He did terrible on the 3-point shootout but his in-game 3’s are more consistent. Rip plays better under pressure and he always performs very well in a playoff series. His numbers are also pretty bad against the Sixers, probably because Iggy is guarding him, but that should change in this series. Rip should average around 20 to 23 points a game against Philly.
Of the five starters for the Sixers, Willie Green plays the best against the Pistons. He’s averaging close to 15 points a game and shoots a surprisingly decent percentage from the floor in 3 games against Detroit this season. He is the key player for the Sixers to be able have a successful playoff run as his shooting touch will allow Detroit to play more honest D and not be able to leave him to catch Iggy’s slashes to the basket.
SMALL FORWARD: TAYSHAUN PRICE v ANDRE IGUODALA
If you’re looking for intangibles in a playoff series, then Tayshaun Prince is your guy. He’s not going to give you 20 points a lot, even if he can, but he does many other important things on court. He is capable of scoring and shooting the three, Prince’s value is very evident when you need that crucial steal, that critical block (hello Reggie Miller), and that dagger three from the baseline. He is the steadying factor in this Piston offense which is why it runs so smoothly.
What’s there to say about Iggy? Honestly, I’ve never been high on this guy, and even if I had the chance to pick him up in fantasy, I didn’t because I had no belief in his shooting or his leadership abilities. But the new AI in Philly, I’m sure proved a lot of people wrong. His averages are unbelievable, 19.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.08 steals, and almost a block a game. He is probably the only player with stats like that who is not in any MVP conversation. That’s a complete stat line from a sidekick of one of the best scorers in NBA history. He has developed into one of the finest all around players in the league and is the leader of this Sixers squad. This team will go where he leads them, and he plays very well against the Pistons. It is critical that he plays his game and not get rattled in the playoffs as the Sixers will definitely be counting on him to lead them through.
POWER FORWARD: RASHEED WALLACE v REGGIE EVANS/THADDEUS YOUNG
Sheed hasn’t been all that dramatic this season. He has his tantrums every now and then but is more controlled now. One of only a handful of big men who can jump out and shoot the three, he will cause a lot of problems for the Sixers big men with his crafty post moves and ability to hit the perimeter two’s and three’s. He is a good rebounder and blocks a lot of shots and will definitely help contain the slashing guards of Philly.
Evans is a hustle player and a strong rebounder. He doesn’t score, and shoots a bad free throw percentage, but he has definitely improved. Reggie should average around 10 boards a game in this series while time sharing with the younger guys like Carney and Young. I see Young being inserted into the starting 5 as he has more versatility to be able to cope with the speed of Detroit’s big men. He should still play off the bench but eats up Evans’ minutes quite significantly. We’re actually looking at 3 big men in this spot. Evans, Young, and Carney. One of those guys needs to step up for there to be any chance for Philly to pull out an upset.
CENTER: ANTONIO MCDYESS v SAMUEL DALEMBERT
McDyess has been one heck of a rebounder all season, not to mention being able to shoot an unbelievably good percentage from the floor. Remember when I said Rip was one of the few players with a good inside jumper? Well, here’s the other one. He can drag away your center or big man because he has a sweet outside touch that’s money when he shoots it. It’s all mid-range for McDyess, and should be key to getting the boards on those Philly misses.
For anyone who is reading this and doesn’t know who Sam Dalembert is, please leave now hehe
Dalembert is the main anchor of Philly’s vaunted defense. He is averaging 3.4 blocks a game and is number four this season on the block party list. Many players know better than to drive in and get their shot swatted away by Sam. If he can score a bit more and put some pressure on the Pistons, then the 76ers should have a better chance. That is why the trade that sent Ashton, err, Kyle Korver to Utah, was very key. The Sixers now lack an outside presence that can compensate for Sammy’s post-moves. Dalembert should play a big part in this series, and if he steps up, then Detroit may be in a little quandry.
BENCH: Jason Maxiell/Rodney Stucky/AAA v Rodney Carney/Louis Williams
The Sixers bench is quite thin, thought the talent in it isn’t. Carney is a good slasher who can surprisingly hit threes. Louis Williams is an even better slasher and he is the spark off the bench. He usually shoots a really bad percentage, but if he gets it going, he can do practically everything and shoot the lights out. He can score, rebound, find teammates, block shots, though not as prominent as some of the names mentioned above.
The Pistons, on the other hand, have very good bench mob. Their B-Team played the final quarters of no-bearing games this season and has given them a lot of confidence going into the playoffs. Jason Maxiell can be a monster if he was given the chance to do his stuff. But the gems off the bench for Detroit are definitely Jarvis Hayes and Afflalo. Hayes has provided quite a spark for Detroit, allowing them to win games just from his sheer percentages from the three point line. Afflalo has proven himself to be an able back-up for Chauncey in case anything happens to their starting PG. So for the Pistons to get this series done and over with, all they need to do is shutdown the slashing of Iggy, and stop Andre Miller from managing the team at point. Easier said than done right? Definitely. But if there is any team in the East who can do it, it is definitely Detroit.