They just wouldn't be the Sixers if they didn't kick you in the face just when you were starting to believe. The only question after tonight's drubbing at the hands of the Celtics is whether the sky is falling, or if it has already fallen. The only guys who can answer that question are the Sixers players, and they won't get a chance to answer it until they take the floor on Friday night. (game capsule).
Here's your rotation chart, though I'll caution you not to look at it if you're feeling the least bit queasy. It's ugly:
This one was tough to watch after the first quarter, kind of like a train wreck...without the hope for survivors. One thing to point out, the offense wasn't pretty in this one, but they scored enough to win. In fact, their offense was better in this one than either of the first two by a decent margin. They lost this game because they flat out could not defend to save their lives. If you need something to take solace in, it's highly unlikely their defense will perform that poorly again.
Since we're talking about dubious silver linings, Thad Young finally showed up for a playoff game. He scored 22 points on 10/16 from the floor. Of course, the terrible defense the team played, he was responsible for a healthy chunk of that. If you want to point to the moment the game changed, it's not hard. Doug Collins started the second quarter with his worst defensive front court (Thad and Hawes) coupled with his worst defensive back court (Lou and Meeks). Doc Rivers brought Garnett back into the game, and he picked them apart. They never could stop the bleeding after that. This has been a consistently weak lineup that Collins just won't abandon, for the life of me, I can't figure it out. The biggest play of the game might've actually come when Lavoy Allen was whistled for his second personal foul in the first quarter. Lavoy's defense on Garnett was needed badly, and he spent most of the game riding the pine in foul trouble, which left Hawes, Brand and Thad to contend with Garnett. They were no match.
That's enough of a recap for this one. It's one loss in a seven-game series. Yes they gave home court advantage right back to the Celtics. Yes it was embarrassing, but it's one game. Don't get too high, don't get too low. The only thing that matters now is how the Sixers respond. Will they return to the floor shaken or merely humbled? Determined to right the wrong of game three, or content to go to the motions and say "Hey, no one thought we'd get out of the first round!"? We're just going to have to wait until Friday.
Player of The Game:
It was going to be Thad until he jogged out to contest a three in the fourth quarter. I can't reward an effort like that. Jrue gets the nod for what was a really solid game on the offensive end: 5/10 from the floor for 15 points, 6 boards, 9 dimes (would've been about 14 if Hawes wasn't his center and Brand could hit an 8-foot wide open jumper).
1-2, old guys.
Friday night, in Philly
One last silver lining: Despite blowing the game wide open in the third, Doc Rivers left his main guys in there for a lot of minutes in the fourth. Rondo played 41, Pierce 37 and Garnett 30. No rest for the weary, even in a blowout.