There was a defining stretch in this game that may just turn out to be the defining moment of the season. With 5:48 left on the clock the Sixers and Celtics were tied 80-80. The Celts called a timeout and I wrote down the time and the score. The Celts came out of the timeout with the Big Three on the floor, the Sixers countered with their athletic lineup (Miller, Williams, Iguodala, Thad Young, Dalembert). Over the next 4:12 the Sixers went on an 8-0 run. Iguodala had 2 steals during the stretch and scored all 8 points, but he wasn't the only story. For the third game in a little over a week, Samuel Dalembert decided that the fourth quarter is his quarter. He took Kevin Garnett one on one and bullied Garnett. Absolutely shut him down. Blocking one shot and forcing 4 misses from Boston's MVP during the stretch. Those are the money minutes of a close game. The Sixers went to Iguodala, he delivered. The Celtics went to Kevin Garnett and Sam shut him down. Outstanding.
Iguodala was a superstar tonight. Plain and simple.
The final was 95-90
, but at the end it really wasn't that close. With the Sixers down by 11 with 8:20 to go they ripped off a 19-0 run. The Celtics announcers spent the entire fourth quarter making excuse after excuse for the loss, but it came down to the Sixers throwing a huge wrinkle at the Celts, and Doc Rivers having no answer for the athletic lineup Mo used.
Not to be overlooked is Thad Young's game. The kid played big minutes, including the entire fourth quarter, did an excellent job defending bigger guys all night long, and finished with 16 points and 9 boards. I can't say enough about his effect on the offense. When he's in there, things open up for everyone.
If you read my preview earlier today, I called for limited minutes for Willie Green. Mo obviously wasn't reading, but check out these splits. By my count, with Willie on the floor the Sixers were outscored 47-56 in 26 minutes, -9 points. With Willie on the bench, the Sixers outscored the Celts 48-34, in 22 minutes. That's a pretty stark difference.
One last note from tonight's game. Andre Iguodala abused Paul Pierce all night long. Down on the blocks, out on the perimeter, even on defense, Iguodala was by far the superior player. Andre finished with 28 points on 10/17 from the floor with 4 boards, 4 assists and 3 steals. He held Pierce to 12 points on only 6 shots from the field in 32 minutes.Player of The Game:
Andre IguodalaTeam Record
: 36-35Playoff Race
: Toronto didn't play, so the Sixers are now all alone in 6th place, 1 game behind Washington for #5 and 4 games behind Cleveland for #4. The Hawks were inactive, moving the Sixers lead to 5 games over the #8 seed.
The Sixers eclipsed their win total from '06-'07 tonight. A nice stepping stone. I'd like to see them add about 9 more wins to that total the rest of the way and finish with the 4 seed. It's possible.