If we're judging by Tony DiLeo's substitution patterns, the playoffs have already begun. The Sixers needed this game, but how badly? Badly enough for DiLeo to call on Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller to each play 45 minutes, including every second of the second half. It was a gamble, but it paid off to the tune of a 95-90 win over the Pistons.
Let's start by looking at the rotations:
A couple observations from the rotation chart: The Sixers didn't play one second of basketball with zero Andres on the floor. Sam averaged about 2.5 minutes per foul and didn't grab a single rebound. In his on-court interview heading into the fourth, DiLeo said he planned to go to Donyell, but he scrapped that plan when he saw the production he got from the Theo/Speights combo up front. Good coaching. Lou came off the bench quickly in the third when Willie wasn't getting the job done.
I really don't like the subs he made at the end of the game. I completely understand bringing Evans in for Speights, especially with how poor the defensive rebounding was, but Willie for Lou? That one baffles me. If you're going straight defense for offense, Willie's name should never enter the equation. It should've been Ivey on that yo-yo.
As for the game, well, I don't think we can say enough about the two Andres. Iguodala has absolutely torched the Pistons, the same team who "shut him down" in the first round of last year's playoffs. Today he finished 13/19 from the floor for 31 points, and as we usually see from him, he did exactly what this team needed for the win down the stretch. After getting killed by Detroit on the glass for most of the game, Iguodala grabbed 5 boards in the fourth to help secure the win.
Andre Miller, well, he was the man. A triple double after a slow start, 21 points, 12 assists and 10 boards to go along with 2 steals. Iguodala and Miller combined for 15 of the team's 31 defensive rebounds.
Lou Williams and Speights continue to provide scoring off the bench. Lou played another solid game tonight, in particular, 6/10 from the floor for 15 points.
All told, this was an important win. The Sixers clinched their playoff spot. They pushed themselves a half game ahead of Miami (who plays tonight). They moved their record to 5 games over .500 for the first time this season. It was a gutsy win with some very ballsy coaching. Hold your breath that they don't pay the price for the heavy minutes played tomorrow against the Nets.
Player of The Game: Iguodala
Team Record: 40-35
Up Next: @ NJ tomorrow night
I tracked Reggie's touches in the offense again, but there were only three. He scored 2 points on the three possessions.