After the pathetic effort and loss at home against the lowly Grizzlies on Friday night, we’re willing to admit that going up against The Lebrons on the road was not a game we were looking forward to playing. Thus when the 76ers fell behind 20-4 in the opening quarter and Lebron & Co. were yucking it up and performing their choreographed high-fives for the home crowd, we were tempted to call it a night on the Sixers and change the channel.
But we didn’t grab the clicker which was a smart move. Apparently the Sixers looked in the mirror, conducted a gut check and decided to actually play some ball. Arguably their best ball of the 2009-10 season.
The result was a great game vs. the much more talented Cavs. For that we have to give the Sixers credit because coming off Friday’s ugly loss combined withhitting only two of their first nine shots in Cleveland, it would have been easy for Philadunkia’s home team to fold and thus get rolled by the 10-3 Cavs.
However the max-effort the Sixers gave for nearly three ful quarters last night against The Lebrons wasn’t enough, as a 4thQuarter filled with bad defense (of course), shaky point guard play and poor shooting sunk the Sixers (97-91).
A quick recap of the 1st-3rd Qs before we jump ahead to the decisive stretch of the 4th quarter:
Again trailing 20-4 in the 1st Quarter, is the point where the Sixers seemed to wake up and by the end of the first quarter, they were down 36-23. In the 2nd Quarter the Sixers took it up a notch thanks to good shooting and solid defense. You read that right, solid defense from the Sixers. It was a sight to see and at the half the Sixers only trailed by five points (56-51). Coming out of the locker room after the half, the Sixers inspired play continued. They outscored the Cavs 30-21 in the 3rd thanks to Thaddeus Young rediscovering his scoring touch (10 points in Q) and actually led 81-75.
In our opinion from the half way point of the 1st Q to the end of the 3rd, was the best basketball the Sixers have played all season. Based on the level play we had witnessed for two plus quarters, at the end of the third, we actually believed that the Sixers were about to pull off a huge upset.
But the high level of play did not continue, thus the lead and our confidence did not last long. The 76ers opened the 4th Q by hitting only one of their first nine shots and the defense reverted to the sieve it has been all season. Before we knew it the Sixers trailed 85-83. The really scary part is the lead disappeared with Lebron on the sidelines as the Cavs bench just had its was with the Sixers defense. The Sixers and Cavs traded a couple of buckets before the game’s decisive sequence of plays happened starting at the 5:26.
Locked at 85-85 and with James now back in the game, Louis Williams (who had played well until this point) missed a jumper and the Cavs grabbed the rebound. Going down the other of the floor, the Cavs Mo Williams missed a J, the Sixers failed to clean the defensive glass and Ilgauskas grabbed the board and got the put-back bucket (87-85). Iggy turned the ball over on the next possession, but it did not “hurt” the Sixers as Lebron missed a reverse lay up at the other end. Louis then jacked an ill-advised 3PA and the Cavs again grabbed the board. They got a lay-up from Jamario Moon down the other end to extend the lead to 89-85.
At this point the Sixers really needed a basket as you could feel the momentum building for the Cavs and the Cleveland crowd was getting into the game. Well, just the opposite went down. The Cleveland crowd exploded about fifteen seconds later when Louis turned the ball over just inside half-court and on the Cavs break out, Moon finished by sky walking for a ridiculous flush and a 91-85 lead.
Now the Sixers are absolutely desperate for a hoop, but instead of pounding it inside to Brand (Who was having his third great game in a row.) for an easy bucket or a trip to the FT line, Louis hoisted another 3PA. The shot missed, Moon ripped down the board and down the other end, Lebron drove right through the Sixers defense for an easy lay-up and the 93-85 lead. GAME OVER
The Sixers wouldn’t get any closer then four points (93-89) from that point on.
- The Sixers went cold down the stretch making 4-of-23 shoots and scoring just 10 points. Some of the credit goes to Jamario Moon who guarded an already shaky Iguodala for most of the third and fourth quarters. Moon’s height and ability to stay with AI9 seemed to have an impact as Iguodala went just 1-of-7 shooting in the final 12 minutes of the game.
- While Brand had another great game – 18 & 14, AI9 continued to struggle offensively. Coming off his sub-par performance against the Grizzlies, Iggy again had problems with his shot (6-22 from the field; 0-2 on FTs) and settled for too many jumpers. The fact that he only shot two free throws is very telling of his shot selection vs. the Cavs. Iguodala should go back and look at game tape from the win against the Bobcats where anyone can see the conscious effort he made to get into the lane for easy baskets or fouls. That’s the Iguodala we need on the floor every night. If we could pair that version of AI9 with the now resurrected Brand, this team may be able to make some forward progress.
- The Sixers outscored the Cavs 46-36 in the paint.
- How about Daniel Gibson’s haircut that featured the outline of the state of Texas carved into his head? WOW