Playoffs don't faze physical 76ers
Posted: Tuesday May 11, 1999 02:16 AM
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Don't try to tell the Philadelphia 76ers what teams lacking postseason experience are supposed to do in the playoffs.
One of the reasons they're up 1-0 in their best-of-5 Eastern Conference series with the Orlando Magic is because coach Larry Brown built his team with this time of the year in mind.
"Everybody talks about how much people step up defensively and how aggressive the game is in the playoffs," said center Matt Geiger, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds in Philadelphia's 104-90 victory Sunday.
"That's our style of play. That's why we won 28 games this year. And I think that's why we're going to do well in the playoffs. ... We really play a physical, aggressive style of basketball. That's why we had a lot of confidence coming in here."
Allen Iverson scored 30 points and the 76ers limited Orlando to 36 percent shooting while outrebounding the Magic 57-36 in the opener. To even the series Tuesday night, Orlando not only will have to contain the NBA scoring champion but find a way to keep Philadelphia from dominating the backboards.
"We play our own style of basketball," Iverson said. "I think our style of play is just defense. Simple as that. We feel like if we can't throw a rock in the ocean, defense can get us over the hump. That's how we approach games."
Magic coach Chuck Daly said he wasn't surprised by how well the 76ers played in their first postseason game in eight years. He hopes his players now realize what they're up against in this series.
"I suggested if you're feeling sorry for yourselves, there's not any sympathy out there. Not from the fans. Not from the opposing team," Daly said.
"They've got to compete. Not on every other play, but every single play. ... I talked to them before the game about desperation, that a lot of their players haven't been to the playoffs. And if they have, it was a long time ago. So, you've got to play with more desperation on every possession."
The Magic vowed to do as much for the remainder of the series, which shifts to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Thursday night. Orlando has never won a playoff series after dropping the first game.
"It was really embarrassing," said Penny Hardaway, the Magic's four-time All-Star guard.
"We're coming in [Tuesday night], and it's war time. If we're going to go out, we're going go out playing hard. If they're going to push us in the back, let's push them in the back. If they're going to punch us, let's punch them. ... We played like it was a regular season game. They played it like it was a playoff game. They came in like they should have come in."
Orlando used four different defenders, including Hardaway, against Iverson on Sunday. When Daly arrived at work Monday, he had a message from a fan claiming to have the answer to containing the scoring champion.
Daly said he returned the call out of curiosity.
"I got all of his suggestions. They were pretty much a lot of the things that we see and already know," Daly said, adding that the one approach Orlando won't take is to concede Iverson his points while focusing on his teammates.
"We saw him get 39," Daly said, referring to April 25 when Iverson actually had 38 to pace a 17-point rout of the Magic in Philadelphia. "They killed us."
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