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Sixers On The Brink

After playing their worst game of the series in a killer game 5 loss, the fate of the Sixers season will rest in the hands of the man pictured above for the next 24 hours or so. Dwight Howard should be suspended for game six. The league has a clear history on things like this. He intentionally elbowed Sam Dalembert in the face, it was not in the heat of action. It was a cheap shot and he should be sitting out game 6. We all remember what happened in the Suns/Spurs series a couple of years back, the league made it very clear that exceptions are not made in the playoffs. No we have to wait to see if they follow the same credo in this situation.

This was a disheartening 48 minutes of basketball to watch. The Sixers were never really in the flow, in fact several times in the first half I had to double check the score to make sure they weren't down by 15 points, but somehow, they hung on.

They played their worst game of the series, by far, and still cut the lead to 6 points with 3:11 remaining. They can thank the Andres for that. Iguodala did his best to pick this team up and carry it on offense, Miller used his veteran guile to come up with 4 second-half steals, each one coming at a critical time in the game. Even with those two playing their hearts out, it was never meant to be. Orlando finally broke through from three-point land (8/23), they abused the Sixers on the offensive glass, grabbing 15 boards. Those are obviously the two biggest keys in any Sixers game, they failed at both, and still, somehow, they were in the game.

I don't know what to think right now. I have no feelings whatsoever about game six because I just don't know what the league will do. I know I should be disappointed in the showing on the floor tonight, but I just don't know how I can be disappointed by the effort. They should've been blown off the floor. They should've lost by 30, but they wouldn't let that happen. They somehow willed themselves back into the game. Unfortunately, the lion-sized hearts of a few players can't overcome some things, and tonight, there was plenty to overcome.

The kids seemed to wilt under the pressure. Lou played one of the worst games I've ever seen from him. Stupid, stupid plays on both sides of the floor. Thad was ineffective, again, and thoroughly abused by Rashard Lewis on the defensive end in the second half. The bench, as a whole, contributed next to nothing. Sammy played a fine 20 minutes, but the fouls really hurt, especially picking up his fourth on the first play of the third quarter.

Andre Miller had stretches where he looked his age. He had lapses on the defensive end, and he certainly didn't shoot well (6/15), but as I said before, he was all over the floor down the stretch, somehow coming up with a huge stop/steal when the team desperately needed it. Iguodala bounced back from a quiet first half to put the team on his back with an 18-point second half. The biggest thing about Iggy's game was that he took the ball to the rack. 10/13 from the line.

I decided to track Iguodala's game throughout. You'll see the results below and we'll talk a little bit about them after.

What we're looking at here is a chart of Iguodala's touches throughout the game. Quarter on the left, # of touch, whether or not he was double-teamed, description of the play, points scored by the team, field goals made and attempted and finally Iguodala's points.

On 44 touches, the team scored 45 points (offensive rating of 102.3, on the other 40 possessions, the team's offensive rating was 82.5). Iguodala was doubled on 25 of his 44 touches, on those possessions the team scored 28 points (112 offensive rating). Iguodala himself scored 11 points on possessions when he was doubled.

My takeaway: The double is not working for Orlando, and Iguodala is doing an excellent job of eitther (a) finding open teammates or (b) beating the double on his own and scoring. In game 6, I'd go back to the one-four iso and run it to death until Orlando proves they can stop it. Honestly, that was easily the best offense the Sixers had tonight.

That's all I have for now. Tough loss, with a huge questionmark hanging over Thursday's game. With or without Howard in the lineup, I'm expecting a battle on Thursday. Just get to game 7 and take your chances. That has to be the attitude. Good luck sleeping, everyone.

Player of The Game: Iguodala
Series Record: 2-3
Up Next: @ the FU center, Thursday night.

Here's the post-game video. DiLeo basically says the refs let Howard camp out in the lane on both ends of the floor:

And Stan Van Gundy, playing the role of sore-winner to perfection.