The 78th game of this tumultuous season could be the Sixers last. Win or lose, it could be their last on their home floor until October. The emotional roller coaster this team has put its fans through must pale in comparison to their ride. If they want it to end tonight, all they need to do is lay down like they did so often in the second half of the season. If they want to live to fight another day, stand up. Fight. Attack.
Two evenly-matched teams. No tricks left up their sleeves. Just 48 minutes of battle to decide if they'll meet again, or the Sixers will prepare for their exit interviews later this week. The Sixers are more than capable of winning this game. More than capable of sending their fans home energized for Saturday night. More than capable of giving the newly-converted faithful a return on their faith investment. They're also more than capable of looking at where they are, in the second round, and thinking, "Hey, we accomplished more than anyone thought we should. Isn't that enough?"
No. It's not enough. When you step foot on the floor tonight, realize that win or lose, you're going to have to look your teammates in the eye when the game is over. If you didn't get on the floor for that loose ball, if you didn't make sure Garnett didn't get the and-one in the lane, if you jogged out to close on that corner three. Those ifs will haunt you. Those ifs will be the lasting memories you take away from this season, and hopefully away from Philadelphia, because if you can't get up for this game. If you can't sell out, can't leave absolutely every shred of your being on the floor when you're playing to live another day...well, if you're one of those guys tonight, then good riddance.
48 minutes of hell, all five guys on the floor. Boston wanted a fight, well they're going to get all they can handle and more. Win this game. Period.
The tip is at 8pm. This is your game thread, hopefully not the last.