Our backs are officially against the wall. Game six could be the last we see of the Sixers until the November. Can they shock the world one (two) more times?
Tonight's game sucked, no doubt about it. The fact of the matter is, the Magic are a better basketball team. They have better shooters. They have more depth. They execute better. Does that mean the Sixers are out of the series? No, absolutely not.
First let's talk about the giant elephant in the room, Dwight Howard's pending suspension -- will he or won't he? Dwight threw a Chuck Liddell-like elbow in the direction of Sammy D's dome in the first quarter. Chris Webber, Kenny Smith and Sir Charles are all on record saying he should and he will be suspended. My gut says D12 will be watching game six from the bench. Will I be surprised if I'm wrong? No, this is a star's league and it wasn't as malicious as it could have been. However; this comes straight from the NBA rule-book.
l. A player, coach or trainer must be ejected for:
(1) A punching foul
(2) A fighting foul
(3) An elbow foul which makes contact above shoulder level
If Dwight is indeed suspended, game six becomes a very, very winnable game for the Sixers, but I'll save the analysis for another day.
There are a few more things we can take from tonight's game. Number one, Andre Iguodala is amazing. The only thing I can complain about is his awful free throw shooting. Other than that he's been brilliant. One of Iguodala's biggest criticisms coming in to the series was his inability to "flip the switch" and put the team on his shoulders. Problem solved. In the Sixers ever-problematic third quarter, Iguodala felt the game slipping away and took over. He continuously put his head down, drove to the basket and got to the line. He also hit a big three to cut the lead to eight and grabbed a man's rebound over two Magic players. Andre needs to do two things this summer, shoot nine million free throws and get some rest. The dude has to be tired from all the minutes he's racking up (47 tonight).
On the other side of the spectrum, Lou Williams officially sucks. He's the worst perimeter on the team. He's the worst team defender on the team. He hurts the offense more than he helps. And I'd even go as far to say that I'd rather see Bill Green on the floor than Lou Williams. I cannot tell you how pissed off I was with Lou-Will tonight. Missed shots I can live with. The palming violation I can live with. Those things happen. What I cannot live with is him allowing J.J. Redick wide open threes, allowing 900-year old Anthony Johnson to blow by him or weak double-teams on Dwight Howard. Does he seriously thing that his 6-foot, 180 pound frame is going to affect Dwight Howard by just standing next to him with his hands up? You either double hard or don't double at all.
The only other guy worth mentioning is Thaddeus Young, and not because he played well. I've been super disappointed with how quiet Thaddeus has been this series. For the final month of the season, Thaddeus was dominant on offense. He was oozing with confidence. This series? Not so much. He's hesitant. His offense isn't there. His defense is average at best. And his inexperience has really shown. Maybe his ankle's a little worse than he's been leading on? Regardless of what it is, I'm not worried about "Baby Legs" one bit. He has a good head on his shoulders. He has all the tools to become a great player. And he has an awesome work ethic. Expect the big "third year jump" from him next season.
The same cannot be said for Lou Williams sorry butt. Sorry, I had to get one more cheap shot in there.
Down 3-2, we're about to see what this Sixers team is made of. Game six is on Thursday, and I'll wait and see what happens with Dwight Howard before making any hasty predictions. We're not done just let.