The Andres carry Sixers to playoffs
Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on April 5, 2009
Finally the stretch of several weeks of crazy work SEEMS over, and starting from today I’ll “normally” watch and blog the remaining Sixers games.
This couldn’t have been more timely because I just enjoyed the 95-90 W over the Pistons that officially brought Sixers (40-35, .533) to the post season.
And I am 3/3 on the prediction I made some days ago about the last ten games.
But what matters the most is that ALL Sixers, in Thaddeus Young’s absence, picked up the slack and showed some great effort on both ends of the floor in the last three games, not coincidentially all won.
In the last one, vs the Iverson-less Pistons, the two Andres carried the load, not only offensively, because they logged in 90 out of the possible 96 minutes (!!!).
This was an “interesting” move, especially in such a tough, close game, that looked like a playoffs matchup. As minutes, and quarters, were passing, I was asking to myself “Why in the hell we aren’t making any sub at all ???”
DiLeo gave the explaination after the game:
“We took a little gamble playing Andre and Andre the whole second half, but we felt we had to do it,” DiLeo said. “Miller had a great game with the triple-double and Andre Iguodala had the high score, so those two guys really stepped it up.”
DiLeo made a substitution with 5.05 to play in the third (62-61) and then stayed with the same lineup (Miller, Williams, Iguodala, Speights and Ratliff) until 2.02 in the fourth (89-88), when he replaced Speights with Evans: that’s 27 consecutive minutes with the same guys on the floor.
Thank God, I’m not the coach the move paid off, because Evans grabbed a key defensive rebound, was fouled and knocked down two big free throws with 30 seconds left, to give us a four point lead (92-88) that basically decided the game.
That hustle play by my boy Reggie ended a painful series of possessions in which Pistons got a ton of offensive rebounds, getting themselves multiple second chances.
Sixers allowed Detroit a surprising 17 off boards, but made up for it by knocking down 10 of 12 foul shots in the final 3.15 minutes (or 12/15 in the last 4.38, if you prefer).
There are more positives about this game.
1) Iguodala completely dominated Tayshaun Prince this time, starting with a terrific first quarter, in which he shot 7/8 and scored 15 points. Andre’s final 31 points are a season high, and the 13/19 from the field speaks for itself.
Adding 9 boards and around four alley oop dunks makes his 44 minute-performance fantastic, considering he was playing against one of his worst nemesyses, Prince, exactly.
2) the other Andre didn’t shoot the ball well, but notched his 9th career triple double. Enough said.
3) role players stepped up again. Reggie Evans did his usual good job, Lou Williams was extremely effective again and Marreese Speights contributed as well.
With Sam facing early foul troubles (and failing to get a single rebound in 10 minutes on the floor…), Ratliff played a season high 31 minutes, and while his 4 rebounds are one of the explainations for Detroit’s (too many) second chances, he did have a huge block on Stuckey down the stretch. We all know Theo, and the fact that he ALWAYS goes up for the help/swat can give us troubles under the boards. It happened yesterday.
I must say the Speights-Ratliff frontcourt gives up too much in terms of rebounding, I’d use that combo only for limited minutes, leaving one between Evans and Dalembert always on the floor.
But it’s not time for nitpicking, Sixers reached the postseason, already matched the total of wins of last season (40) with seven games to play and still have a chance to gain home court advantage, being 4th seed Atlanta only two games ahead of us in the standings (43-34).
Taking a look at the schedule, with five of our seven games left on the road, we will more likely fight with 41-36 Miami to mantain the current 5th seed but taking a look back at this year, the coach change, the injury to Brand, all the unbelievable last second losses etc, I must say we should be pretty happy for what we achieved.
Sixers meet the Nets tonight in the first of a three game road trip, I’d better not remind how the previous three games vs New Jersey went (not only we are 0-3 vs them, but remember how the losses came…).
Avoiding an embarassing sweep against the (horrible) Nets would mean adding another reason to smile in this pretty good second part of the season.
SIXERS4GUIDOS’ BONUS STATS AND RANDOM THOUGHS – Rip Hamilton scored only three points in the first half – Sad to say, but Rasheed Wallace looked like a former player last night, jacking up seven threes and showing no focus and interest – Will Bynum gave us troubles again, and Kwame Brown completeley embarassed Dalembert (& Theo) in the first quarter, scoring 10 points on 4/5 – Pistons reached a 12 point lead in the seconds (24-36), the biggest of the night, but Lou Williams came off the bench to spark a nice run that helped us close the half down only four, 46-50.
SIXERS4GUIDOS’ MISSING RECAP: Due to a business trip, I could watch only the final 4 minutes of the previous 105-95 W over the Bucks (39-35), a game in which Sixers started Evans in place of Young – I like the idea – and got a huge boost by Lou Williams and Marreese Speights off the bench – This is how the guys at Brew Hoop saw the game – So we swept the season series vs Milwaukee in a comeback win, and this gives me the opportunity to post a funny pic of Evans to end this post. Take a look at “the Evans shake”: