As I watch the OKC/Memphis series play out in the West, I can't help but think about the Sixers/Knicks game on April 6th, and how things could've possibly played out much differently for the Sixers had they not lost on that fateful day.
If you don't remember that particular game, click the link above. The Sixers laid an egg against the Knicks. Jrue shot 5/17 from the floor for 11 points, Jodie was 0/8 from three and their fourth-quarter comeback fell painfully short. That game cost the Sixers a game in the standings and the tiebreaker over the Knicks. The dominoes fell and New York drew the Celtics in the first round while the Sixers were matched up with the Heat.
That one simple game swung the Sixers from probably their most favorable matchup in the first round to the least. Heading into the playoffs with no momentum, it would've been easy to say they wouldn't have stood a chance against Boston, but after watching how they played against Miami, I think their odds would've been pretty good. Their athleticism would have, at the very least, caused a ton of problems for the Celts.
Anyway, to bring this back to what we're seeing from Memphis now, let's assume the Sixers could've beaten the Celts. What would we be saying/thinking right now if they had beaten Boston in the first round and then put forth a similar effort against Miami in the second round to what we saw in the first (even if they lost in five games)?
As a fan, it would've been tremendous to see them vanquish the Celts, who were really ripe for the picking. I know I would've given anything to see the Sixers win a round in the playoffs. But where would we, and more importantly the front office, be mentally concerning this team. The series vs. the Heat was great to watch. The team certainly made me proud, but I think anyone who's looking at things objectively will tell you the Sixers clearly have a ton of work to do before they even approach Miami's level. Would we all be as quick to jump to that conclusion if the Sixers had won a first round series? Would Rod Thorn be sold on this roster more than he probably should be? Heck, is he already more sold than he should be?
It's probably easier to play the what-if game at this point and say they might be better off not having a fools' gold series win to fall back on when tough decisions need to be made, but still every time I see Memphis take the court I can't help but think that stupid loss to the Knicks cost the Sixers a legit chance to do the exact same thing the Grizzlies have down.