MIAMI, FL - APRIL 27: Andre Iguodala #9 of the Philadelphia 76ers walks off the floor during game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on April 27, 2011 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
My natural inclination is to dissect the game we just witnessed, to nitpick and complain. Certainly we could complain about the open three's (which, while some were off helping on Wade/James isolations, some were simply poor off-the-ball defense where perimeter players lost their man), or we could complain about the last offensive possession (ideally, I'd either want a drive and kick, or a pick and roll to the hoop in that situation, but that's a shot Andre was hitting the entire 4th quarter). We could lament the lack of a shotblocker, and you could see the effect that had on Miami's defense, as Joel Anthony was a series leading +72 over the 5 games.
We could talk about bad Lou showing up tonight, or Jrue Holiday not being able to find his offense and looking like a 20 year old, or about Evan Turner's inability to make the quality looks he generated for himself. Certainly we could complain about the missed free throws down the stretch, and if you wanted to find a reason why the Sixers won't be playing again for the foreseeable future missed free throws and offensive rebounding are your primary culprits (the Sixers shot only 11-17 from the line and gave up a 31.9% offensive rebounding percentage to the Heat).
But right now's not the time. Sit back and emotionally detach yourself for one second, don't look at how the Sixers blew winnable games and realize how well the Sixers played. They took a 58 win team down to the wire in 4 of the 5 games in a playoff atmosphere. They came out and responded to the Heat's best punch, in a road elimination game, against a supremely talented squad with 2 huge matchup problems, holding LeBron and Wade to 42 points on 38 field goal attempts.
I'm generally not one for moral victories, and I think this playoff experience will be overrated by some in the media in the coming months. This isn't even about the what, if anything, this does for Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner's development. This is simply a recognition of the greater than expected entertainment value the Sixers provided for me this season. This is about appreciation of the consistent and exceptional effort level given by everyone in the rotation, right down to the final seconds.
This was fun, even if frustrating, basketball, providing a level of enjoyment none of us expected, and many of us forgot existed.
That's not to say the Sixers are close, and again, that's a topic we'll be debating until basketball is played again, whenever that may be. But they were fun to watch, perhaps even relevant.
Player of the game: Andre Iguodala (missed shot and all)
Next up: Uh.....I have no idea. I can't even give you a year.