This game should not have been decided by two points
. The free throw shooting was atrocious in the fourth quarter, and the Sixers should've put Orlando out of its misery much, much earlier. Still, a win is a win. And a win in the playoffs is gold, especially in a swing game. Thoughts on game three after the jump.
Player of The Game
- Courtney Lee spent more time whining to the refs than playing basketball. You're a rookie, stop acting like someone owes you something because you had a couple of decent games when the defense really didn't care about you at all.
- Thad completely disappeared for about 45 minutes of this game. His second and third hoops were both huge, though.
- The play that got Lou benched was unforgivable. I watched it on replay, the call was to switch the screen, Thad switched, Lou did nothing. He didn't go and double the passer hard (which may have made the pass difficult) and he didn't react when the ball went to Lewis for the three. In fact, Thad realized what was happening and did his best to get out there to challenge the shot, but guarding two men by yourself on the perimeter is not possible. Lou stood and watched, eight feet away from either man.
- The biggest key to this win, and also a sign of the heart the Sixers have. Orlando tied the game up at 86 with 6:00 to go in the fourth. They tied it again with 6 seconds left, but they never took the lead. The Sixers clamped down on the defensive end when the game was truly on the line. Good sign.
- I came to two realizations about the Magic after watching them play three games in a row. Number one, Stan Van Gundy is a moron, or he has no control over his team. Out of every timeout, at the beginning of every quarter, Van Gundy would go to Howard in the post a couple of time, and Howard would score or get fouled. Without fail. Two minutes later, Howard would become nothing more than a big guy who sets screens way out past the three-point line for Rafer Alston. If there was any kind of commitment to feeding Howard in the post throughout the game, he would've scored 60. The second point is just how much this team misses Jameer Nelson. Pretty much every time Howard set those high screens, he rolled right down the middle of the lane either completely unguarded, or with a small on him. Not once did the Magic even attempt to hit him on his dive to the hoop. If you can think back to the first time these teams met this season, Howard was getting the ball from Nelson on those rolls.
- As frustrating as his lapses can be, this team functions better with Sam Dalembert on the floor. They rebound better and they defend better. I'm not sure they win this game if Theo doesn't pick up his fifth foul with 7:31 left in the fourth.
- The Magic have now tried to guard Andre Miller with Rafer Alston, Courtney Lee, Anthony Johnson and Mickeal Pietrus. The results: 23 points/game, 7.7 rebounds/game, 5.7 assists/game, 52.7% from the floor.
- The enigma that is Andre Iguodala will never cease to amaze me. By all rights, he had a dominating game last night, yet he bricked two free throws down the stretch, which is the only thing his detractors will remember.
- Lou's shot selection was much better.
- Willie really can't guard anyone on their roster. Alson abuses him in every imaginable way. When DiLeo is making offense/defense switches, he'd be much better off going with Ivey instead of Willie.
- Reggie was actually a positive on the game in his brief run in the first half. He brought energy and drew a bunch of fouls.
- Finally, when you think about it, isn't this Sixers team exactly what Philadelphia sports fans supposedly want from their teams? Underdogs, who play with max effort and win by out-working their opponents? Why the hell aren't they selling these games out?
: Andre Iguodala, 29 points on 15 shots to go along with 7 boards, 4 dimes and 2 steals.
Sunday at the Wach.