Fast Breaks: Pistons-Sixers

Fast Breaks: Pistons-76ers
By Bryan Armen Graham
Game 1   Leaders
Sixers lead series 1-0   Points Rebounds Assists
86 90
• Thaddeus Young came off the bench in 11 of Philadelphia's last 16 regular-season games. But the first-year combo forward got a surprise start in his playoff debut as Maurice Cheeks opted to bring energetic workhorse Reggie Evans off the bench. The impulse proved prescient as the lanky 19-year-old scored eight of the team's first 20 points, helping the Sixers stake a surprising 20-14 lead in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Evans pumped in 11 points (better than twice his regular-season average) and a game-high 14 rebounds in 31 minutes of reserve work, giving the Sixers some much-needed pluck off the bench during the team's second-half rally.

• Sam Dalembert's inability to effectively guard Rasheed Wallace away from the basket cost the Sixers repeatedly throughout the first half. The most egregious example occurred with 7:09 remaining in the second quarter, when Wallace buried a 25-footer from the top of the key with a confused-looking Dalembert anchored in the paint defending nobody in particular. Wallace, a North Philadelphia native, torched his hometown team for a game-high 24 points on an imaginative array of layups, mid-range jumpers and long-range bombs. He also powered the Pistons on the defensive end while matching a franchise playoff record with seven blocked shots -- but missed a number of crucial close-range attempts down the stretch, enabling the visitors to escape with their first postseason victory since 2005.

• Tayshaun Prince did a masterful job using his length and speed to corral Andre Iguodala (above) for most of the series opener. Iguodala shot 2-for-12 in the first half, getting four shots blocked during one supremely frustrating stretch near the end of the first half. But Iguodala found other ways to contribute to the upset effort besides scoring during the second half, finishing the night with a game-high eight assists and grabbing nine rebounds. He also helped ice the victory from the charity stripe, depositing 3-of-4 free throws during the final 11 seconds.

• The Pistons didn't do much to answer the naysayers regarding their most glaring question mark: depth. But Detroit did get an outstanding effort out of reserve power forward Jason Maxiell, who chipped in 11 rebounds and 12 points on an efficient 6-of-8 shooting. The Cincinnati product threw down five dunks on post moves and putbacks, providing much-needed energy for a Detroit offense that appeared occasionally disinterested while leading during the second and third quarters.

• Maybe the fans in the Motor City have just gotten accustomed to the idea of success after five straight conference final appearances. But with four minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Sixers having just taken an 82-80 advantage, the decibel level in the Palace at Auburn Hills was shockingly subdued. A team that won 59 games during the regular season deserves more of a home-court advantage from its fans. The Pistons will certainly need it Wednesday night, as the newly confident Sixers look to bring a 2-0 series lead back to Philadelphia.
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