Bitter end for a fantastic Sixers season
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on April 17, 2008
REGULAR season, I mean.
It ended with the 115-109 loss in Charlotte, the fourth straight, that kept us under .500 (40-42, .488).
Big deal? No, it was a fantastic run, and this young, exciting, athletic Sixers team probably overachieved, thanks mainly to the wonderful job done by Maurice Cheeks, a guy I bashed on these pages many times. Time to apologize again.
Some of you would perhaps remember I predicted 31 wins, but hundreds of “colleagues” (in the category I put journalists, experts, bloggers, fans) were more around the 24-28 W range, with Sixers finishing from last to second last in the Eastern Conference.
So I won’t complain about these final four games, even if I would have preferred to take at least this last one, in order to avoid finishing with a losing record and to build some momentum before the playoffs (starting on Sunday at Detroit).
Cheeks rested most of his starters last night, with only Iguodala logging his usual minutes. Sixers were down 23 in the third (76-53, after a three pointer by Jason Richardson) but rallied back and closed the quarter 87-80 thanks to a 12-2 run with five consecutive points by an active Thaddeus Young and an alley oop dunk by Willie Green (season high 27 – in the picture, getting a rare S4G front page honour ) right at the buzzer.
The fourth quarter was interesting, three consecutive three pointers – two by Iguodala, one by Green – cut the deficit to three (97-94), two (99-91) and one point (101-100). Proud Sixers even gained the lead twice, first when Young closed a fastbreak with an easy layup (103-104) then when Iguodala knocked down Sixers’ tenth three pointer of the night (!!), 106-107.
Unfortunately in the last two minutes our defense allowed a couple of easy baskets and Jason Smith had three costly mistakes: he missed both free throws with Charlotte up one (110-109, 1.09 to play), then coulnd’t finish under the basket after Carroll extended Bobcats lead to three (112-109), and finally fouled Felton on the last offensive play for Charlotte, allowing the “and one” that closed the game at 115-109 with five seconds left. It will be a learning experience for our rookie, a player I really like, by the way.
Time to think about the Pistons, then. I repeat, I think Detroit will win the series 4-1, but all games will be close. First because the Pistons rarely rip (no pun intended) their opponents, playing at a slow tempo, second because Sixers apparently found a way to win some games against a team that for the last 3-4 years literally toyed with us.
Sixers and Pistons split the regular season series (2-2), and even if the last win at the Wachovia center came against a team that had its starters watch for most of the game, our guys were able to steal one in the D earlier, one of the (many) turning points of this surprising Sixers weason.
Brian/Depressed fan has a suggestion for Mo Cheeks that I agree with. Unfortunately, it won’t happen. Willie will remain in the starting line up. But usually he plays well versus his home town team so let’s be positive !
A guidoesque breakdown of the Detroit series will follow before game 1, together with a post celebrating Mo Cheeks (any seat left in the bandwagon? LOL).
SIXERS4GUIDOS BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
Dudley airballed a free throw in the third… no, not Chris, Jared Dudley !! – Sammy had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter – Amundson blew a layup for the possible 93-91 in the fourth – Matt Carroll looked like the best Dan Majerle in the first half, when he had 15 points – The finest Bobcats blog Queen City hoops hasn’t posted its recap yet… do guys there care at all? – Bobcats were without Gerald Wallace, Sean May, Adam Morrison – Sixers were with Kevin Ollie, though – Shavlik Randolph saw some action and had a couple of nice plays before injuring his hand !! – Redlasso rocks, thanks again Joe.