Man it feels good to be writing this post. The Philadelphia Phillies swept the San Diego Padres in 4 games. The Flyers somehow brought the Sabres to OT and won, forcing a game 7. Aaaaaand….
After 7 very long, very strenuous games with the Miami Heat this season, the Philadelphia 76ers have finally walked away with a victory. Every game was within reach and followed the exact same pattern, except this one.
Typically, the 76ers start the game off well and outscore the Heat. Then, through fouls and amazing shots, the Heat climb back in and make a final push in the 4th quarter. Every game it seemed like the “Big 3” were demoralizing the efforts of our younger players and it was keeping the game out of reach. It would happen on cue with about 5 minutes left in the game. You could set your watch to it.
Here’s some of the differences I saw in this game :
1) Altercations. For 6 games you could see the Sixers deflate after Lebron James and Dwayne Wade put on a spectacle. For game 4 of this playoff series, you finally saw the 76ers show some teeth. Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner both got in the face of Jones in the 2nd quarter, and it had to be broken up. Spencer Hawes wrapped up Lebron James during a drive and he was livid. And Spencer Hawes got right back at him. You could finally see some anger when we used to just see despair. It showed resilience.
2) Fouls and points in the paint. We all know the insane amount of calls the Heat were getting nearly every time they drove in the paint. The Sixers weren’t getting those calls, but that’s mostly due to the fact that they weren’t even driving to the basket. Lou Williams, Evan Turner, and Jrue Holiday all drove in the paint consistently in the 4th and kept pushing to keep the intensity up. Yes, most of those got blocked, but it’s more the principle at that point. For the previous 3 games in this series when the lead would get out of hand, the Sixers fell back on making poor jumpers from outside, and a miss would result in an immediate rebound and score for the Heat. Driving helped keep the rebounds alive for us and established some presence where it hadn’t been before.
3) Miracles. Two back to back 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds of the game really made the difference. We finished the game 10-0 which is an absurd stat. The end-of-game stats were also much more favorable for the 76ers (which means they were actually even.) Team fouls were practically tied at 17 (MIA) and 18 (PHI.) Offensive rebounds, the stat that destroyed the Sixers, were dead even at 9 a piece. We actually out-rebounded them as a whole 18-16.
Even if we lost this game, I still would walk away with a great sense of accomplishment. We had 14 more wins than last year. We have a solid young core of great basketball players led by an amazing coach. The upcoming years in Philadelphia are going to be great.
It’s a great day to be in Philly. Happy Easter everybody.
This post was written by Randy Neil