Looks like we’ll have a series… (Pistons 0, Sixers 1)
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on April 21, 2008
I honestly didn’t think that was possible (who did it?), but still it happened.
(Check what I said before the game in this Q & A session with Jesse from Pistons Nation, that was so kind to contact me for exchanging thoughts about the series. You’ll find also some nice pics and more funny stuff…)
Sixers stole a 86-90 win in Detroit, lead the series 1-0 and gained home court advantage, all in a fantastic night. That came in one of the weirdest, craziest, most exciting of the possible ways it could.
Sixers trailed by thirteen at halftime (51-38 ) and fifteen midway through the third (62-57). Here they went on a 10-0 run that avoided a collapse (especially a mental one) and totally changed momentum. The quarter ended 70-63, and was followed by another 4-0 run at the beginning of the fourth (70-67) that set the stage for the final 10 minutes, in which Sixers came close (72-71), tied it (76-76) and finally took the lead when Miller made it 77-78.
Here came a pretty unbelievable sequence, a sign that things were turning in our favor: Evans made 2/2 from the line (!!), Billups went 0/2 (!!!!) and Evans scored again on the next possession (!!!!!!!!), this time on a fall away jumper (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!): 79-82 Sixers with 4.26 to go. Of course the game was still open then, but our confidence had a huge boost.
Both players weren’t done pulling rabbits out of their asses, though, with opposite results for their respective teams: “Mr. Big Shot” (?) missed another free throw (80-82) and after Lou Williams and Rip Hamilton traded baskets, Evans made a huge tap in for a 82-86 Sixers lead.
Sheed made a couple from the line (84-86, with 1.22 left), Iguodala split a pair (84-87, 1.04 – actually Andre was 1/3 because Pistons were called for a lane violation on his second, missed free throw and Iggy shot, and missed, again…), Billups finally made both (86-87 with 45 seconds to play), setting the stage for the final plays. Here we go.
Dalembert was (correctly) called for a charge on Maxiell after Iggy was doubled and dished him the ball, so that Pistons had a chance to take the lead but Tayshaun Prince misfired on a more-than-makeable jumper form the corner. Iguodala got the rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds left but made only 1/2, again (…): 86-88.
Detroit inbounded the ball and found Wallace in the low post for what appeared to be an easy bucket over Andre Miller, but Evans came to help and made Sheed miss: Iguodala caught the ball and was fouled again, finally sealing the win from the line (2/2 —> 86-90, 7 seconds left).
Sixers could celebrate a win that nobody thought possible.
Reasons for the win? I would say Sixers’ trademark “Never give up attitude”, that kept us playing hard even when the game was apparently slipping out of our hands, balls showed by many players that stepped up in different moments, as usual: not only Evans, my MVP, but also an excellent Willie Green (yes, I wrote it…) + Andre Miller who scored 9 points in the final quarter, providing veteran leadership when we needed the most.
Not to mention Thaddeus Young’s fantastic start (8 in the first quarter with 4/5… are we sure it was his first playoffs game ???) and Jason Smith solid contribution in the fourth (+9 in the plus/minuts stat). And give a ton of credit to the guy at the helm, Mo Cheeks, that I criticed during the first half for not taking Iguodala out and for not putting Jason Smith in, but who insisted on Evans in the fourth and got his deserved payback.
Only Iguodala (who struggled big time in the first half) and Dalembert (nice start, terrible finish) played a subpar game, but that should be even encouraging for us: imagine if they can go back to their usual selves in the next games !! Iguodala didn’t shoot well but he was excellent under the boards and distributing the ball. He can do better, though.
Also we had some serious help by our opponents: I mentioned the many (unusual) misses down the stretch by players that are usually clutch (Billups, Sheed, Tayshaun) + a bad shooting night by Rip Hamilton. I am reading many blame Flip for poor coaching but I honestly don’t know what else/more/different he could have done, players made the biggest mistakes.
SIXERS4GUIDOS BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHTS
Iguodala shot 2/12 in the first half, when he logged 21.40 minutes. Too many, IMHO – Sheed had 13 points by halftime, to go with 5 blocks !! – Sixers had two blown lauyps and a missed dunk in the first quarter – Jason Maxiell had a huge impact off the bench and help Pistons go on a run in the second quarter, finishing with 10 + 9 at the break – If we could only use the red uniforms…. – Excluding notorious bum ehm, bench warmer ops, veteran back up Kevin Ollie, Reggie Evans was the Sixer with more playoffs experience before last night, having played 16 games in the post season: Andre Miller follows with 15 – Nice Pistons coverage on Need4sheed, Detroit Bad Boys and the aforementioned Pistons Nation – Pistons in the fourth: 4/17 from the field, 8/12 from the line, 4 turnovers.
It’s 5.30 AM here and I can go to bed happy. I couldn’t be prouder of my Sixers.