Well now I’m confused. The Sixers overcome an enormous eighteen point second half deficit and a monster night from Dwight Howard to get the best of Orlando in game one, and then hold the Defensive Player of the Year to a paltry 11 point 10 rebound game, and lose? Shouldn’t the outcomes be reversed?
Apparently not, which has me scratching my head as the series flows into Philly for the next two games. Game three could potentially be the difference maker, and for the Sixers it serves as the biggest game of the season, and more importantly, the series. After an unthinkable come from behind win against the Eastern powerhouse in game one, the Sixers were able to capture the momentum of the series, and spoil Orlando’s home court advantage. This momentum however, did not last as Orlando was able to secure a victory and recapture the momentum in game two, thanks to a balanced effort from their starters, who all scored in double figures.
With the series tied a game apiece, and the Sixers now holding home court advantage (with 3 potential home games remaining to the Magic’s two), the teams head to Philadelphia for what could be a decisive game three. The importance of this game cannot be overstated. A victory for the Sixers would demonstrate that they can truly contend with Orlando, while a second straight win for the Magic would reassert them as the dominant team in the series. Luckily, the game will take place in front of the fanatical fans of Philadelphia, who will be needed to rally behind the surging Sixers.
However, the fans themselves cannot win the game, and the team needs to provide the Philly faithful with something to get psyched about. The improved contributions from Young and Miller were necessary, and will be crucial for the team’s continued success in the series. I’m still pleading with Igoudala to break the barrier and produce more than the 20-22 points that we have all become so accustomed to seeing. Also, a combined four points between two starters (Green and Dalembert) will simply not get the job done in a series that has continuously tested the depth of both teams. The offensive firepower is there for the Sixers, it is just a matter of getting it firing on all cylinders.
Defensively, there were no glaring problems, except for the 24 points allowed to an inexperienced rookie in Courtney Lee, which I don’t expect to happen again. Holding the DPOY to 11 points was impressive, and such a dismal effort from Dwight may not be duplicated. However, limiting his effect on the game continues to be critical. Also, if the Sixers’ perimeter defenders can force some bad shots, this could lead to potential fast break points and work to ignite the sometimes stagnant offense. With such adjustments the Sixers should be able to clear my confusion, put themselves in position to win the series and finally push past the first round.