2001 NBA Finals

Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Free e-mail Travel Subscribe SI About Us
  Finals Home
NBA Draft
More NBA News
Team Pages
Lakers | Sixers
Team Stats
Lakers | Sixers
Pop-up Rosters
Lakers | Sixers
Playoffs Histories
Lakers | Sixers
Daily Schedule
Your Choice Awards

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Video Plus
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide

 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

'Pressure is on them'

Sixers relishing underdog status in Finals

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Tuesday June 05, 2001 2:04 AM
Updated: Wednesday June 06, 2001 2:31 AM
  Allen Iverson Allen Iverson feels that all the attention the Lakers have received has created a low-stress environment for Philly. AP

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Allen Iverson is glad that most people don't think the Philadelphia 76ers can beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

"Everybody has counted us out, and I feel good about that," Iverson said Monday. "All the pressure is on them. It's like David vs. Goliath. Everybody picks the Lakers because they look like the sure shot. That's fine with us. We like it that way."

The Lakers, who haven't lost in more than two months, take a 19-game winning streak into Game 1 of the Finals on Wednesday night at the Staples Center. Los Angeles is a 12-point favorite in the opener.

Philadelphia, making its first trip to the finals in 18 years, is coming off consecutive seven-game series.

"Anybody who is going to play the Lakers after they won 19 straight would be considered an underdog against them," Sixers head coach Larry Brown said. "But I know my team, I believe in them, and you never know what these guys can accomplish."

The Sixers have been proving people wrong since they began the season with a franchise-best 10 consecutive victories. The team has overcome numerous injuries, including a broken foot that has kept forward George Lynch out of the past 10 games.

"When things don't look good, people count us out, and that's when we pull together," Aaron McKie said. "We don't want to go out there just to be there. Our focus is to win the series. Whether it's here or there doesn't make a difference."

The series would have opened at the First Union Center if the Sixers had beaten the last-place Chicago Bulls on the final day of the regular season.

Instead, Iverson and Dikembe Mutombo sat out, and Brown rested most of his other starters to prepare for the playoffs. It took a late 10-0 run for the Bulls, who finished with a league-worst 15-67 record, to beat Philadelphia's reserves 92-86.

The loss tied the Sixers with the Lakers at 56-26. Los Angeles got the home-court edge on a tiebreaker -- better record against the opposite conference.

After the loss to Chicago, Brown said he wasn't looking ahead to the Finals, didn't want to risk injury to any of his key players and was more concerned with getting out of the East.

Brown said Monday he doesn't have any regrets about the way he handled the final game.

"I didn't rest the guys just to rest them," Brown said. "They were legitimately hurt. I'm not smart enough to plan that far ahead. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it the same way."

Iverson didn't play against the Bulls because he was on the injured list with bursitis in his right elbow, an injury that continues to bother him and forces him to wear a protective sleeve on his arm. Mutombo had a sprained toe and missed his only game since coming to the Sixers in a trade on Feb. 22.

"Them having the home court is just another adverse situation, and we're motivated by that," McKie said.

Los Angeles hasn't lost Game 1 of a playoff series since Phil Jackson became its coach last season, posting double-digit victories in all but one of its seven series-opening games.

Related information
Bryant-Iverson a marquee Finals matchup
Well-rested Lakers finally know who they're playing
Alexander Wolff's The Hoop Life: Finals matchup looks a lot like it did 18 years ago
SI's Marty Burns: Dikembe comes through
Sixers president Pat Croce insists he likes his team's chances against the Lakers. (171 K)
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CNNSI   Copyright © 2001 CNN/Sports Illustrated. An AOL Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines.