Saturday, May 26, 2012

They had a chance...

My lack of love for Doug Collins is no mystery. My lack of appreciation for Andre Iguodala has never been hidden.

But in the fourth quarter (and waning seconds of the third) my hatred grew for both.

Two key parts cost the Sixers the game, when they undoubtedly had a great chance to move on to the conference finals. They played in a sloppy, low scoring game, and gave themselves a chance. But were let down by the two most important components- their coach, and their 'high-profile' player.

The first (and secondary) moment was Iguodala's misses at the line at the end of the third quarter. With a chance to take the lead for the first time since their only lead of the game (20-19) in the first quarter, and overcome an eight-point deficit, Iggy misses two free throws and the C's score at the end of the quarter to take a three-point lead into the fourth.

It could have been a one-point Sixers lead.

The second, and much more important moment that caused the loss, came after Paul Pierce fouled out with a lot of time remaining in the fourth (over four minutes.)

Thaddeus Young, who hasn't played big minutes all season, but somehow gets time and the ball in the biggest moment of the Sixers season, passes the ball to Kevin Garnett, who unfortunately, has been playing for the other team all seven games.

Boom, eight straight (and 11 in the last four minutes) for Rondo, and ball game.

Great job Doug.

I understand your intention with Rondo, make him beat you with his jumper. But with the shot clock winding down to two seconds and Rondo having the ball, you have to step up and put a hand in his face. That 27-foot three-pointer capped it.

Why was Young in the game? Who knows. Why did Jodie Meeks hardly play? Good question. Where was Vucevic all series after seeing consistent minutes (and clutch minutes) during the regular season (15 minutes a game regular season, 3 MPG post-season)? I don't know.

Doug Collins did some commendable things with this team this year. They had no business being in game 7 against the Celtics with the chance to go to the conference finals for the first time in 11 years. But they were there. And they blew a great opportunity.

75 points.

And Iggy...well, more of the same.

After hitting a huge three to cut the C's lead to 71-68,  he takes one meaningless shot attempt in the final 4:30. One shot attempt. He came up big in game 6, why not shoot the ball in game 7?

$13,531,750 and a 38% shooting percentage in the playoffs. At least give us a terrible shooting percentage when we need you the most. Show the effort. (By the way, great cutesy layup attempt on the Pierce foul instead of taking it up strong)

Great things were done by the Sixers this season, who had some luck (Rose, Noah, Allen injuries) in their playoff run. But changes still need to be made. Iggy and Collins to name two. The rest looks quite alright for a bright future.

I am not thrilled to be rooting for Boston in the next series, and I give them about a 10% success rate. But seeing LeBron fail is a must. If Bosh is healthy, they won't fail this round. If he's not, and Brandon Bass plays like he did against the Sixers, Boston's odds go up. But I still wouldn't put money on the C's, and I am a betting man.

The worst part is that I get to go back to Boston in a few weeks and see all the people I can't wait to see who will say things I can wait to hear, about how great the Celtics are/were in their win over the Sixers. And what I have experienced over the past 3 years is that you simply cannot talk rationally about sports with the over-biased Boston fan-base (for the most part, I'll give exception to Joel Mode on this one.)

The Celtics, although advancing to their third conference final in five years, are far from a great team. They won this series when D-Rose got hurt. And like watching Tom Brady flop in the Super Bowl and hearing every excuse instead of the truth, Boston sports fans will regard what just happened in the Sixers/Celtics series as something it wasn't- a great accomplishment.

And one last jab at the Boston 'faithful.'

I will not end this mornings blog with an 'at least we have the Phillies,' like I've heard so many times in the past three years, when referring to a Boston franchise's end-of-season failure.

Although glad to have the Phillies, the true failure of the moment is the Sixers loss. It was preventable, but they lost. So yes, Philadelphia, basque in the failure, don't forget it, and hope to grow from it. Because it happened, and it sucks. But please don't go back to being fair-weather Sixers fans. Don't lower yourself to the standards of other sports cities.

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