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Pistons and Sixers kick off the playoffs

It's weird -- you wait all season for the playoffs to start, and when they finally get here, it seems like they snuck up on you. (Or is it just me?) I answered some questions about the series the other day for Brian at the aptly-named Philly blog Depressed Fan, and I should point out if you're looking for a Philly tinted view of the series, he's been doing a heck of a job breaking down everything. And like you'd expect from a loyal fan, he doesn't think this series isn't quite the lost cause for the Sixers as most people are predicting:

I said I wasn't going to predict the outcome of this series, but I've changed my mind. Everything I've read, seen or heard leads me to believe not only is the entire media taking the Sixers lightly, but the Pistons are as well. They expect a sweep. They are going to be in for a dog fight. On paper, they have the advantage. On the court, they have the experience. What they also have is the mileage. The Sixers are a young team who learned how to win playoff-type games, against playoff-caliber teams down the stretch.

Actually, what the 76ers did down the stretch was lose five of their last six, including games against the likes of Atlanta, Charlotte, Indiana and that heartbreaker against Cleveland. But I digress ... my main problem is that I'm not sure what he's reading, because everything I've seen has been about how the Pistons are taking the Sixers seriously. Here's Chauncey Billups on Andre Miller and the rest of 76ers:

"As I've said a number of times, he's the most under-rated point guard in the league," Billups said. "He doesn't get (enough) credit for what he does."[...]

"They've been a much different team the second half of the season," Billups said. "That's the team we have to focus on, not the first half of the season team. They're capable of beating us, and we know that."

Here's Flip Saunders' praising their defense:

"The four games we played them, I don't think any of those games we had a lot of energy," Saunders said. "... They're a team that relies on quickness for rebounding. We haven't given our best effort against them. We're going to have to play a lot better against them in the playoffs than we did in the regular season."

I don't know, maybe Philly's media is playing up the "no respect"/underdog angle, but the Pistons seem to realize what's at stake here. In any case, the game just started -- leave your thoughts in the comments.