05/23/12 2:03 pm EST
Tonight this 76ers roster faces the biggest game in their history. A second round elimination game is being held down at the Wells Fargo Center tonight and in addition to possibly ending this crazy season, one could argue that it could be the last run in red, white and blue for many in this group of players.
One could also argue that this group of Sixers have no one to blame but themselves for their backs being against the wall tonight. Some will say they let Game 1 slip away and that Collins & Co. blew Game 5 in epic fashion. Those among the Sixers faithful holding these opinions may indeed be correct.
But we can’t think about what’s might happen this summer right now. Nor can we ponder how we got into this all or nothing situation any more. Nope. It’s now time to focus on tonight’s contest and figure out a way to force a Game 7 back in Boston. So, we asked several of the Philadunkia scribes to type up their thoughts on a few keys to tonight’s game as well as supply us with a prediction for the outcome of the most important game in this roster’s time together.
After the jump, Game 6 keys and predictions.
I think it’s safe to expect that Brandon Bass will play less like an assassin and more like Brandon Bass in Game 6; that the Sixers home court advantage will wipe out the free throw disparity (33 FTA for the Celtics to 16 for the 7-6) that hampered them on Monday; that the second half langor they slipped into won’t be repeated with their season on the line; and that Lou Williams will do better.
My prediction: 87-82 Sixers. Game 7, here we come.
Game six is all in for the 7-6. For a team with an uncertain future on the brink of elimination expect them to come out with everything they’ve gone; which for one more game might be enough to beat the Celtics.
Lou-Will, Spencer Hawes, Brand, and Iguodala all face uncertain futures in Philly so expect them all to be ready for battle in what they know could be their last game in front of the Philly faithful.
I expect Iguodala’s resulting charged defense on Pierce as well as Lavoy Allen’s efforts on an inconsistent KG to be enough to stifle the Celts offense, as long as Jrue can keep pace with Rondo.
On the heels of Garnett’s comments about the fair weather-ness of Philly fans, expect an already ecstatic Wells Fargo Center to be even louder, helping to give the Sixers the edge necessary to extend the series, and their season; for at least one more game.
When it comes down to predicting what team will show up in tonight’s pivotal Game 6, your guess is as good as mine. Will it be the team that came out in Game 4, looking like a unique combination of young talent demanding to be taken seriously? Will it be the team that looked like a unique combination of inexperienced young talent that got trounced by a “this is the last run we have, so we better make the most of it” Boston squad in Game 5? Will it be the offensive unit coming to put on a fast paced show for its home town fans or the defensive unit struggling to score points?
I honestly have no idea, as much of this season has been a consistent and constant roller coaster of the Sixers “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” moments combating each other. While my heart wants to pick the young Sixers to make one last giant step in this up and down season by forcing a Game 7 with the ol’ bullies of the East, my head is telling me that that same veteran ball club has their hypothetical foot on the 7-6′s neck. Lets just settle it with this cop out; if I had to put my paycheck on it, I’ll take Boston to quit playing games so they can rest while the Heat continue to get beat up and beat up the Pacers.
Expect the Sixers to win and win convincingly tonight. With Collins basically calling out Jrue in today’s papers for his disappearing act in the second half of Game 5, I anticipate Holiday will have a huge, huge night and lead the Sixers to a W. I also predict that Brandon Bass will come crashing back to earth and the refs will be wearing less green in Game 6, both of which will help the 7-6’s efforts tremendously.
Look for the Collins & Co. to jump on the C’s early with tenacious defense that leads to some easy baskets. They’ll manage the lead in the first half and be slightly ahead at halftime. Then thanks to a huge quarter from Jrue, the 7-6 will grab control of this one in the 3rd (The key quarter in this series so far.). That will get the crowd at the WFC (Featuring Allen Iversona and boosted by anger over KG’s recent comments) going wild. Boston will then pack it in quickly and look forward to a Game 7.
I know this all sounds outrageous based on how this series has played out so far, but the Jekyll & Hyde Sixers are bound to string together three or four consecutive quarters of strong play in this series and I feel like tonight is when it will happen.
The series has pretty much been what was to be expected. The Sixers young fresh legs versus the experience and savvy of the veteran Boston Celtics. But, the Sixers have had to fight for everything they’ve gotten in the series, winning 2 games in dramatic fashion. Meanwhile, the Celtics have dominated in 2 of their 3 victories, including a 2nd half takeover in game 5. They played shutdown defense, forcing silly Philadelphia mistakes and eventually forcing the Sixers to get out of their offense rhythm and revert back to bad offensive habits that have been detrimental to them in this series.
Game 6 will be a tight one, though. The Sixers will not go down easily. But, my honest assessment has the Celtics winning game 6 in last minute fashion, simply because they have proven to just be the better team. Though, my original series prediction was Celtics in 7. Thus, my prediction will stay as such. Sixers win 89-85.