Well we knew going into the game that the outcome was certainly meaningless. And from the start of it, you could tell that the players and crowd (or lack thereof) knew it as well as they couldn't end the season on a high note, dropping the finale to the Detroit Pistons 104-100. There was little if any energy throughout the arena all night that it made me wonder if the WWF was producing another inclination of Halftime Heat 12 years in the making. Add the lack of intensity to the fact that the Sixers' best player (Andre Iguodala) was sidelined for the second straight game, Thaddeus Young played very limited minutes, and Andres Nocioni got 30+ minutes for the first time since early January (coincidentally, against the Pistons) and one could have very easily predicted the outcome of this one.
The Pistons were able to take advantage of a flat Sixer team (lost 5 of last 6 games) that has been so since they clinched a playoff spot 12 days ago against New Jersey. Jrue Holiday struggled yet again with a quick guard; this time being Rodney Stuckey who erupted for 29 points on just 15 shots while adding 8 assists just for shizz on the way. The Pistons played the aggressor all game and nearly missed doubling up the Sixers in free throw attempts, falling one shy with a 31-16 differential.
In a game that meant nothing towards the final outcome of the season, to any sort of record book, or to playoff positioning, it's hard to take much out of performances but two things stood out for me during the season finale (OMG it's like a TV show or something. I hope there wasn't a cliffhanger! WE HAVE TO GO BACK KATE!).
- Why in the name of Rich Uncle Pennybags did Elton Brand play over 30 minutes tonight? He's essentially been playing with a broken hand the past month and the thought that he could use one night off before the playoffs wasn't an option? All it takes is one roll of the ankle, one foot stepped on and he could have severely hurt himself during a game in which the outcome has no influence on the final standings. I would have liked to see Brand inactive first of all (and maybe activate Craig Brackins for a game? Maybe?), but since he was in uniform, his minutes should have been capped off at the most 20. Luckily for the Sixers, Brand didn't suffer any sort of injury but there's always that "What if?" hovering over a decision like that.
- Evan Turner. In a much more expanded role that we've become accustomed to with the rookie this season, Turner put up a stat line that makes me drool more than the Smokehouse Turkey Panini at Panera Bread. in 35 minutes (!), Evan came away with 18 points (11 in the first half), 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. He filled up the stat sheet back in college and much like we've seen throughout the years with Iguodala, Turner brought it to the NBA. I'm hoping with the increase in minutes Turner has gotten since Louis Williams has been out that he's shown enough to Doug Collins to warrant regular rotation minutes in the playoffs, especially for defensive purposes on Dwyane Wade.
- Jason Kapono took the last shot (that wasn't a heave) of the regular season. Seems fitting considering he had the most field goal attempts this season.