Now that is how you close out a series. Detroit never allowed Philadelphia to make it a game, jumping out to a 30-12 first quarter lead that it would never relinquish. In the quarter, the Pistons held Philly to 25 percent shooting (while connecting on 68.8 percent of their own shots) and matched Philadelphia in fast break points (5). The early pounding seemed to take the life out of the Sixers: Through three quarters (which is all that mattered, as both teams emptied their benches at the start of the fourth), Detroit held Philadelphia to 33.3 percent shooting and just 11.1 percent from beyond the three-point line. "Our feeling was we could jump on them a little bit and maybe put a little bit of doubt in them," said Pistons coach Flip Saunders. "We have been in a lot of close-out type situations. We know what it takes. You have to show the other team that you are not just here to go through the motions." "We wanted to take the crowd out of it early," Chauncey Billups said. "We did that. We attacked and were very aggressive from the start." The white board in the Pistons' locker room before the game read "POST UP!!! POST UP!!!" Consider it a sound strategy. Detroit had enormous success when it dumped the ball into Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Tayshaun Prince (above) and Antonio McDyess in Game 6. The Pistons were virtually unstoppable in single coverage and when the double teams came they were effective in finding open teammates. During the regular season one scout remarked to me at a Pistons game that Prince was the only Detroit player who came to play every game. "That will show in the playoffs," predicted the scout. His words proved to be prophetic: Prince absolutely tortured the Sixers this series on offense (16.3 points on 65.7 percent shooting) while providing stifling defense on Andre Iguodala. Iguodala never could get on track against Detroit, averaging just 13.2 points on 33.3 percent shooting. Apparently McDyess doesn't enjoy wearing the bat mask as much as Richard Hamilton does. McDyess, who donned the clear plastic mask after breaking his nose in game 3, ripped it off his face and threw it toward the scorers' table late in the third quarter. Now that the series is over, it leads to the question: Was a challenging, six-game series better for the Pistons going forward than, say, a four-game sweep? "There are two ways to answer that question," Saunders said. "From a heart standpoint, you want a four-game series. But [as far as] preparing a team, you want this series. It prepared us more for Orlando, there is no question. Everything we had to do from an adjustment standpoint to mental focus, our guys understand what we have to do to exert our will and be successful." Billups agreed. "The last three weeks of the season our starters played the first half and half of the third [quarter]," Billups said. "We were trying to just stay healthy and in doing that, we lost our rhythm. Hopefully we finally did get it back. The Sixers may have been humbled in this series, but they will be a force to be reckoned with next season. Not many teams played better than Philadelphia after the All-Star break and the core of the team will return intact. The biggest question for Philly GM Ed Stefanski will be to assess Iguodala's value. Iguodala rejected a reported five-year, $55 million contract last summer and will probably seek more after improving his scoring average from 18.2 to 19.9 points this season. After the game, Iguodala indicated that he would like to return but left the door open for a possible exit from Philly.
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