05/13/12 2:04 pm EST
It’s a word that every young hungry, ambitious, and aggressive person loathes, but it the end, learns to accept. Around this time of the year, college graduates with grandiose dreams will have their goals and career hopes dashed by this very sentence:
“You’ve got to get some experience.”
Most of the Sixers are the same age of those same graduates currently receiving their degrees and they, too, received a rude awakening about experience in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in a heartbreaking 92-91 loss to the Boston Celtics.
It seemed that the Sixers did everything right. It seemed that that they had everything it took to win. It seemed that the Sixers had their game plan executed to perfection, and it seemed that they were about to take a big first step to their first Eastern Conference Finals in 11 years.
One thing stood in their way.
But, it was the youthful rookie Lavoy Allen who after grabbing an offensive board and dropping in a baby hook shot gave the Sixers a 77-67 lead with 10:53 in the fourth quarter. That bucket was a representation of an advantage the Sixers hadn’t enjoyed for much of the season. They were actually tougher in the paint than the Celtics.
So it seemed anyway. It was easy to seem dominant when Allen and Spencer Hawes were facing the likes of Ryan Hollins and Greg Steimsma.
The Sixers’ frontcourt duo combined for 27 points. Yet, it was the experienced one, Kevin Garnett, who outplayed them both with 29 points.
It was Garnett who turned back the clock by hitting his open jump shots; enabled by a floor general, Rajon Rondo, who had a another playoff triple double
Garnett also showed his veteran savvy by using his old school tricks to help himself and his team. Late in the 3rd quarter, he grabbed the arm of Evan Turner, initiating the contact, and the referees called Turner for the foul. It was his years of battling in the trenches that gave him the smarts to make that move.
It may have been a dirty trick, but it has trick that was learned with—yep, you guessed it—experience.
And, in the 4th the Sixers blew a lead that their youthful fire power earned them, simply due to a lack of wisdom.
Once again, Andre Iguodala was not the culprit.
The young Sixers showed their age as Lou Williams, Evan Turner and company continued to shoot ill-advised jump shots that allowed the Celtics to go on a 25-14 run.
The 2nd round of the playoffs is new for even the veteran Iguodala, who did hit a big 3-pointer to keep the Sixers alive with 1:11 left, after the they suddenly trailed by 6. Iggy’s shot cut the Celtics’ lead to 90-87.
The Celtics held a 3 point lead with 8 seconds left. Paul Pierce had just missed a jumper that would have iced the game.
The Sixers had one last opportunity to tie a game in which, in many ways, they gave away.
But, because of experience that opportunity was snatched away.
The Sixers brought the ball up court, preparing to attempt a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. Except, Rondo stopped Jrue Holiday dead in his tracks. Holiday was forced to shoot free throws.
Rondo, then received the inbounds pass and slithered his way just slightly past Evan Turner and ran away with a 1-0 series lead.
Remember, Rondo isn’t much older than many of the Sixers. But, what he is, in fact, is experienced, especially in the postseason.
He was once in the same position as Holiday, Williams, and Turner. The difference is that Rondo had three Hall of Famers to lean on.
But, the young Sixers will have to learn, on their own, from their own mistakes.
They know that could have, and should have won this game, if only they made better decisions.
If only they had experience to lean on.