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Tonight's 109-104 win in Atlanta not only locked up a playoff berth for the Sixers (their first in three years), but it also catapulted the Sixers into fifth place in the conference. It's great to have the playoffs locked down. It's even better to control your own destiny for the 5 seed. But the best thing to come from this game was the fact that Andre Iguodala can be the guy in a big situation.

This was probably the closest thing the Sixers have had to a must-win on their schedule. A loss and slipping to the #8 seed would've become a real possibility. A loss and the Sixers were one step closer to a first-round match-up with either the Celts or Pistons. Andre Iguodala simply would not let it happen. He played 45 minutes and finished with an amazing line of 30 points, 10 assists, 3 boards, 1 steal, 1 block and only 1 turnover. He took over the game when it mattered most, going nose-to-nose with Joe Johnson in the fourth quarter and scoring 15 points in the final 5:48 of the game. The best sign for Iguodala, 11/12 from the free throw line. When the playoffs start the Sixers are going to need Iguodala to regain his FT form from last season when he shot 82%. He put the game away from the line tonight.

This game was another example of a point I've made over and over again concerning Willie Green. When Green plays and shoots well, like he did tonight (5/11 FG, 2/3 3PT) it's a zero sum game. The team was -1 when Green was on the floor, plus 6 when he sat. Here's a clip to show the sum of all of Willie's parts (big thanks to Joe from the comments for recommending Red Lasso). Continue reading after the jump.

Click here if the embedded video isn't working.

I can't end this recap without a word about the kid. Thad was a man among boys on the inside tonight for 41 tough minutes. The most minutes of his career. The Sixers rarely went to him, but when they did, he converted on tough opportunities in the paint, and he made it look easy. For the second game in a row, when the Sixers needed a hoop coming out of a timeout they went to the kid in the paint and he delivered. Check out the video below.

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Player of The Game: Andre Iguodala
Team Record: 39-37
Playoff Race: Tied with Washington for the #5 seed, 3 behind Cleveland for #4, 1 ahead of Toronto for #7, 4 ahead of the Hawks for #8.

These teams head to Philly for the second half of the home-and-home Saturday night. There can be no let down. The Sixers have Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to rest up. Expect more heavy minutes from everyone. Now is when you have to leave it all out on the court.
by Brian on Apr 5 2008
Tags: Andre Iguodala | Basketball | Playoffs | Sixers | Thaddeus Young | Video |