Well, that was a quick 33 games.
The Indiana Pacers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-97, to finish the Sixers’ home schedule for the lockout-shortened season. With 5 road games remaining, this was the last chance to leave the home fans something to cheer about. And while the Sixers didn’t win, anger was not my first reaction.
For some, it may have been. There were several points where the Sixers looked to be in control of the game, only for it to slip away. The end of the third quarter comes to mind – the Sixers held a 5 point lead in the last 40 seconds, only for it to evaporate to nothing by the time the clock showed all zeroes and buzzer buzzed. Turnovers hurt the Sixers in this stretch as well as throughout the game, with the league-leading Sixers committing 15. But yet again, the offense was not the problem – the scores that resulted from these turnovers ultimately decided the game. Indiana scored 16 points off Sixers turnovers, which was just too many when considering how well Indiana shot the basketball from behind the three point line.
I’m personally not too disappointed in the result. The effort was there in ways it hasn’t been for seemingly months; Indiana is a very good basketball team, even if they may be a step below elite. I personally think they compare favorably with Miami, for what it’s worth. We’re just not good enough, not at this moment. If it were January, the result could be different. But if it were January, we wouldn’t be in this mess, either.
Good things that happened include Andre Iguodala finally scoring 20+ points. The missed free throws, yet again, hurt though. Thaddeus Young looked good, and he didn’t give up 19 offensive rebounds or so, like on Monday. On the other hand, Spencer Hawes was responsible for 5 of the Sixers 15 turnovers and struggled defending Roy Hibbert, while Lou Williams made spectacularly bad decisions throughout the second half, capped off by the crazy contested three that could have tied the game with 18 seconds remaining. Danny Granger also hit 6 of his 8 threes, making Iguodala’s dominance in this face off seem like eons ago.
Unfortunately for those that want to make the postseason (and conversely, fortunately for those who’d like to miss it – I’m looking mainly at you, Dante Nelson), the Sixers path to the playoffs became significantly more difficult as a result of this game. As it stands, the Sixers have a 1.5 game lead (1 in loss column) over Milwaukee with one head-to-head game between the two remaining. The winner of that game earns the tiebreaker in case the teams finish with the same record. And because of the current standings, if Milwaukee wins out, they earn a playoff spot. As they say, the Bucks control their own destiny.
The Sixers have five road games to finish up the season. There is one cupcake, Cleveland, later tonight. If that’s not a win, the entire organization should be fired. There’s two more very winnable games, against Detroit and New Jersey, though the Sixers have made it a challenge to declare any game winnable, as such. They play Indiana and, as mentioned above, Milwaukee.
So, everyone, how are you feeling about this team now? And will this be the last Sixers home game until October?