The Free Throw
This is how the play-by-play in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania went tonight (I run a small access cable television show much like Wayne's World. We talk about basketball and quilts):
"Thaddeus Young takes the ball into the middle, awkwardly rolls it off his finger.... IT'S GOOD! Doug Collins is yelling at the top of his lungs "Foul, foul! For the love of Jeff, foul!" C.J. Watson collects the inbounds, dribbles up the sideline, Jrue Holiday reaches around him for the purpose foul. But no! The referees' whistles are silent! Watson keeps dribbling up the court, racing at full speed. He finds a cutting Omer Asik who gets absolutely mauled by Spencer Hawes. Asik will shoot two at the line, hoping to put the Bulls up 3. Asik releases the first...... no good! The crowd is louder than a Justin Bieber concert right now as Asik puts up the second free-throw... and it clanks off the rim! Andre Iguodala gets the rebound, no timeouts, 7 seconds left. And he's racing up the court! Dre goes to the bucket with everything he's got and he's fouled! Andre Iguodala, the man who Sixer fans have dreaded seeing at the free throw stripe with the game on the line will attempt the biggest foul shots of his life, the Sixers season hanging in the balance.
The first is up.... and it's in. Sixer fans everywhere expecting him to go 1-2. Half the arena with their eyes closed, Doug Collins has his head between his legs, Old Man Knees is standing! Dre flicks his wrist.... and it's good! A beautiful second free throw from Iguodala to give the Sixers the lead. Watson gets the inbound, chucks up a prayer from half-court, it clanks off the rim! No Devin Harris tonight, folks! The Sixers have won their first playoff series since 2003 and have eliminated the eastern conference's first overall seed! Buy my new arrangement of afghan blankets!"
The emotions rattling through my brain during that very small stretch went from so low to the highest of highs. When Asik got the dunk off the pick-and-roll from Watson, I was sure the game was done with and we were going back to Chicago for a Game 7. Thad, like only he can do, capitalizes on an awkward take, Watson bails the Sixers out, and Dre does the Dre'est thing of all-time. What other player on this team would have it in the presence of mind to go get the rebound, recognize how much time was left with no timeouts, push the ball up the floor, and attack the big-man knowing a could was in his horizons.
Thinking of his son, Dre made sure this series was done and over with. He climbed up on the scorer's table after the buzzer sounded, embracing the fan base that has criticized him, unfairly in a lot of cases, over his career, basking in a first-round victory.
Andre Iguodala, I'm so proud of you.
Hit the jump, please!
For the first time in almost a decade, the Sixers are moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs. It was determined, not too long ago in fact, that their opponent will be none other than the division rival Boston Celtics. If you're trying to plan your weekend around the series, Game 1 will be Saturday at what I'm guessing would be night. Get your favorite Iguodala overalls on, because we've got a-whole-nother round of Sixers playoff basketball for you, whether you like it or not.
As for the actual game itself, it was a pretty bad showing on many accounts. Thinking back on it, I can't seem to find myself saying "Oh yea, he definitely played well tonight." Guys made some nice plays and contributions sporadically (see Jrue's scoring outburst in the first quarter, some nice passes and of the course the free throws from Dre), but not one guy seemed to play an overall outstanding game. The only argument I could feasibly make is to say that Dre did because of his numbers and late game heroics, but I felt his defense was completely off the mark tonight, especially when he didn't rotate to pick up a rolling Asik late in the fourth quarter.
The biggest hiccup and vomit inducing aspect of this game was the Sixers inability to grab a rebound, especially in the fourth quarter (the stretch of about 35 straight Bulls offensive rebounds immediately punches me in the face thinking about it). Not only that, but the rotations Doug Collins was throwing out on the floor made me think he was just spinning a roulette wheel to figure out who to put in. Lavoy Allen must have been represented by the green area. There's actually so many problems that went on that I don't want to rain on our parade by bringing them up.
But I just can't seem to find myself getting overly upset about those enormous issues right now. I'm far too hyped up on excitement/nervousness/jubilation/gyros to do anything but smile. Reality sets in tomorrow, let me live for now. The Sixers, for the first time since I was a freshman in high school balling for Coach Kelly Wetherhold, are moving on to the later stages of the NBA Playoffs.
Go off and celebrate, my internet cronies! For we only have one night to appreciate what just went on before we start it up again with Boston. I think they hear us comin'!
This one's for you, Dre. It had to be done.