The pure joy of believing in the team that started the season 20-9. The intense agony of watching it all come crashing down. The defeated feeling of the realization that major changes need to be made. That maybe there's nothing there worth salvaging. It's all brought us to this. Will this series be the culmination of the downward spiral, or a reminder of the inspiring team play that energized the city a few short months ago? Only one way to find out.
It's time for a mea culpa. I live for this. There's a reason I've been so reluctant to say "Just trade everyone. Tear it all down." This is it. I love playoff basketball. Absolutely live for it, and any year when the Sixers don't get a taste is like torture. Are they a legit contender? No. Do I think they're going to win this series? No, probably not. But in a few short hours two 0-0 teams are going to take the floor. Two teams that have played some of the best games I've watched over the past two seasons. It's going to be a battle. It's going to be brutal, and beautiful, and uplifting, and soul-crushing. Ultimately, I want to believe. Far too often, we're made to feel guilty for being fans blinded by our fandom. Well, this is the playoffs. This is the time to root with everything you have without a care for what happens in a couple of months because winning this game, today, is all that matters.
There are no consequences to winning now. A loss won't get you a better draft pick. The evaluation of the roster should be done by now for the front office. If a hot series from someone changes their mind about a player, then there was no hope to begin with. It's just basketball for basketball's sake. I hope Spencer Hawes averages 20/10 in leading the Sixers to a win in six games. Nothing would make me happier than seeing Andre Iguodala drop 30 on Deng, or Jodie Meeks shoot 70% from three, or Lou putting on an absolute show in the fourth quarter for a win. I'll be completely OK if the Sixers win this series on the back of completely unsustainable shooting on long twos. I don't care how, or who, or why. I just want a win.
The tip is at 1pm. I'll be right here, on the edge of my seat, waiting for the battle. Join me.
Prediction: Win. Just win.