Heading in to Sunday’s matinee road game with the Detroit Pistons, we had no idea what to expect form the 76ers. The performances against Boston and a severely depleted New Jersey Nets squad were unacceptable at best. So we did not have much faith that the Sixers could go in to Detroit and get a win. But if you examine the Pistons a little closer you’ll see they have struggled coming out of the gate in 2009-10 just as the Sixers have done. Plus they were going to be without Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, so suddenly we liked the Sixers chances of stealing a W on the road.
However that glimmer of hope faded quickly and here’s why.
Defense again killed the Sixers. Yesterday the perimeter defense was as usual, suspect. Just ask Ben Gordon (23 points) who seemed to be wide open very time he got the ball. However, on Sunday it was the interior defense and specifically defensive rebounding that cost the Sixers a winnable game. Check out these stats – Detroit out rebounded the Sixers 51-39; snagged 21 offensive boards; got 27 second chance point and scored 42 points in the interior. The apparently not washed up, but still old as dirt Ben Wallace grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, including nine of Detroit’s 21 offensive boards. Those are pretty scary stats.
Well the stats do NOT do justice to the interior domination the Pistons put on the Sixers yesterday. It looked as though the Pistons were going up against a bunch of boys. At times we thought we were witnessing the Pistons participate in a basketball shooting booth at the county fair, a carnival or on the board walk down the shore. You know the game were you get four shots for a buck. It was that bad.
Now we are starting to wonder if the Sixers bigs, which we thought would be a strength for the home team in 2009-10, are instead going to be an addition to the Sixers list of issues. Elton Brand was no where to be found again – 6 points on 3-10 shooting. For all the talk of how great he was in camp, Sammy Dalembert showed us nothing once again and was benched for the start of the second half in favor of Marreese Speights. The Sixers frontcourt starters — Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert — had just 20 points between them. Jason Smith played decently, but nothing great. Of course it’s hard to be great when you only get 19 minutes of tick. Speights was the lone positive among the Sixers bigs on Sunday (15 & 6). It’s only a matter of time before Speights is starting.
Still despite getting crushed by Detroit’s bigs, a Willie Green’s jumper gave the Sixers its biggest lead of the day at 77-73 with 6:02 left. That was before the Pistons went on a 13-2 run to close out the game and get the W. During that same stretch the Sixers were 0-8 from the field and that included blown bunnies by Brand and Speights.
One last note: Jason Kapono after playing his best game of the season against the Nets on Friday night (4 three balls) and providing a real fire for a dragging Sixers team, only saw 3:50 worth of tick and was 0-2 on 3PAs (Sixers were 3-18 as a team).
At least the game against Phoenix tonight should be fun to watch.
NBA.com has the highlights of the Sixers loss at Detroit.