What a comeback W by the 76ers in Orlando last night and while many people are writing and saying that the Magic “choked”, we’d counter that the Sixers snatched the game from the Magic’s clutches. The effort and execution put on the floor by the Sixers in the second half last night, especially in the 4th quarter, was the difference in the game and the Sixers should be given the proper credit. It took heart, guts, detrmination, some big baskets and some key X&O moves to pickup this victory in the unfriendly confines of Amway Arena. Here’s a bunch of our notes from the Game 1 victory.
As we expected, the Magic’s Dwight Howard was a force from the jump. The Sixers tried double-teaming him, but he fought through the traffic and ended the 1st half with18 points and 7 rebounds. DH ended with 31 & 16, but it was not enough. We also have to ask why the Magic do not get the ball to Howard in clutch time? Instead they choose to run plays for their solid, not great and ceratinly not superstar level wingmen.
The Magic shot 48.7 percent (37 of 76). But take away Dwight Howard‘s 11 of 13 and Orlando was at 26 of 63.
The upset was of historical proportions as the Magic are 48-4 when leading after three quarters and 52-1 when leading with five minutes to play. It was the biggest lead the Magic blew all season.
The Magic (5-18), the second-best 3-point shooting team in the league, got out shot from behind the arc by the Sixers (7-12) — the second-worst 3-point shooting team in the league.
Obviously with Marshall, Williams and Theo having big nights, the Sixers reserves out scored the Magic’s bench, but did you know that the spread was an astonishing 42-13.
While Iguodala did not raise his game to “hero” level we demanded a little over a week ago, he was pretty solid and of course clutch at the end when it mattered. Iggy finished with 20 points, 8 rips and 8 dimes, but his stats are not the real story. The fierce attitude he displayed is something we need to see more of in this series. Iguoadala was amped and intense and at times his confidence bubbled over so that he was yapping at the Magic players. Also you could see when the Sixers broke the huddle after the final TO, that there was no doubt he was getting the ball on the last play. Iguodala grabbed some big boards last night, but none bigger then the rebound he wrestled away from Hedo with the Sixers down 91-89. Still we do have two problems with Iggy’s play last night. The first is that he went 10 minutes without scoring a bucket or a FT in this game. That type of drought simply can not happen with the alleged best player on the Sixers. The second issue we have is that one of these days we’d like to see Iguodala go to the hole on a last second, game winning play. He routinely settles for difficult jump shots instead of getting to the tin. It worked last night, but more often then not that shot will miss.
With the Sixers down 81-73, Marshall missed a wide open 3ball and we all thought it was the nail in the Sixers coffin. Thank goodness we were wrong.
With 6:26 in the game Miller “hit the B button” as they say and put a beauty of a spin move on Courtney Lee for two points.
Speaking of Courtney Lee, at one point in the 1st half it looked like this game would be his national coming out party. He owns one of the best mid-range games in the League and he put all of his tricks on display in the 1st half. But he stalled in the second half, had one bucket in the 3rd Q and and zero points in the 4th.
The Sixers seemed to easily beat the Magic down the floor whenever they decided to push the rock. That could be a huge factor as the series wears on and the already slow footed Magic become tired and worn out.
The Sixers impressed us with their use of the lob play in two key situations last night. Coming out of a timeout, they executed a nicely designed backdoor lob to Williams that tied the game at eighty-eight. Later Iguodala threw an impromptu lob to Theo in the paint that Theo came down with, gathered himself and then went up and flushed it home to cut the Magic lead to one at 96-95.
With 49 seconds left in the 3rd Q, O-town led the 76ers, 79-61. From that point on, the Sixers outscored the magic 39-19. The key was the Sixers attacking the cup and getting buckets in the paint instead of chucking up J’s. Here’s a look at the statistical breakdown:
Final 12:49 of Game 1
FG 16-23 7-20
FG Pct 69.6 35.0
3-pt FG 5-8 2-8
During the run, certain players emerged and certain ones disappeared. Here’s a scoring breakdown that illustrates our point:
First 35:11 Final 12:49
Donyell Marshall 0 11
ORL starting backcourt (Lee & Alston) 33 0