But we do. Every single story I've read about tonight's 101-94 win
over Detroit focused on the number of minutes the Pistons starters played. The overwhelming feeling, I guess, is that this win doesn't count because Billups only played 29 minutes and that was the most of any starter.
OK. Fine by me. Let's completely discount the absolute jailbreak the Sixers starters had against the Pistons starters in the first quarter. Pay no attention to the manner in which the Sixers made the Pistons look old and broken down. In fact, should the Sixers fall to the 7 seed, the Pistons coaching staff shouldn't even look at the tape of this game. I hope they don't.
If they want, they can pull the tape of the last time the two teams met, in Detroit, when the Sixers beat the Pistons at their own game, 83-82. Don't worry about how they made the Pistons play their game tonight, and beat them at that too.
No matter who saw what minutes, the Sixers came away with a crucial win. Cleveland, Washington and Toronto all won. With four to go, the Sixers can still finish anywhere from 8th to 4th. One win and they're assured of finishing no lower than 7th. One loss and they can do no better than tying for 4th. A 4-0 finish means the #5 seed, at least. 3-1 would probably be good for the 5th seed as well, if one of the wins came against the Wizards. 2-2 and we're probably looking at 7th. Toronto's remaining schedule is just way too easy.
Back to tonight's game. Andre Iguodala continued to play his best basketball when the most is on the line. His dominant 25 points, 6 assists, 5 boards and 5 steals with only 2 turnovers was highlighted by his stellar shooting from downtown (4/8). Andre Miller took it easy tonight, content to run the team and dish when he realized his jumper wasn't falling. Willie Green played well, and was rewarded about 6 extra minutes. The minutes came at Rodney Carney's expense. Carney seemed a little too quick on the trigger, heaving 5 shots in 8 minutes, but none were truly bad shots, so I'll give him a pass.
The brightest of the bright spots tonight was Jason Smith. The kid has become automatic on pick and pop jumpers from the top of the key. If you're looking for a half-court play to run in the playoffs, why not that? Seriously, he has to be hitting over 50% of those jumpers and it gives the opponent something to contend with. If they take him away it's going to leave a lane to the hoop for the ball handler. Worth a shot, and definitely worth more looks in the last four games.
Sammy put up huge numbers tonight (20 points, 13 boards, 1 block), but he also did something I haven't seen him do for months. He got into foul trouble. It isn't so much the fact that he picked up his fourth in the third quarter that bothers me, it's how he picked it up. He had 2 at the half, then picked up two stupid fouls. Neither came contesting shots, both were extremely avoidable. It seemed like a mental lapse to me. Something Sammy has been able to cut down on, and almost completely avoid. That can't happen in the playoffs.Player of The Game:
Andre IguodalaTeam Record:
40-38 (My preseason prediction
was 40-42, let's hope I was wrong. Pay no attention to the rest of my predictions)Playoff Race:
6th place, 1 out of 5th, 1 up on 7th.