May 26, 2012; Boston, MA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers small forward Andre Iguodala (9) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Boston Celtics in game seven of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden. The Boston Celtics won 85-75 to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
The Philadelphia 76ers played 13 Playoff games in 2012, and they made it further than 25 of the 30 NBA teams. What any of that means, is anyone's guess, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
Many Sixers fans found themselves in a dilemma at the end of the regular season: "Do I root for my favorite team to collapse, if only to open ownership's eyes to the lack of talent? Or do I root for my team to make the Playoffs, where an absolute massacre awaits, at the hands of the Bulls or Heat?"
I, for one, was indifferent. I honestly couldn't care either way, and the mere thought of the Sixers perpetual mediocrity made me want throw up in my mouth, swallow, and repeat. All I cared about was the upcoming off-season, and the inevitable disappointment that would certainly follow.
As the regular season neared its conclusion, the Sixers were being eviscerated by teams like the Wizards and the Raptors and the Nets – at home, on the road, you name it. However; they eventually clinched a Playoff spot, almost by default. They didn't just "limp in" – they straight got their asses handed to them from the ASG on, followed by Doug Collins dragging his despondent bunch into the Playoffs, one creepy text message at a time.
The first game of the Playoffs went as planned. The Sixers were destroyed by the one-seed Bulls and the fanbase had collectively reached rock bottom. Then, Derrick Rose got hurt, cautious optimism ensued, and the "Sixers Be Crazy" run was officially underway.
In game two – after Rose went down – the Sixers trailed the Bulls by six at halftime. Even without Rose, they seemingly had no shot against the number one seed. Then, all of a sudden, the Sixers morphed back into the team who began the season 20-9 for a quarter and out-scored the Bulls 36-14 en route to the "HOLY HELL WE HAVE A SERIES" game two victory.
The series progressed, a lot of ugly basketball was played, every Bulls player injured himself at some point, and it all came down to ... two Andre Iguodala free throws?!
With the Sixers down one, in a series-clinching game, Andre Iguodala was going to the free throw line. It was a Sixers fan's worst nightmare. Once an 82 percent free throw shooter, Iguodala's percentage has inexplicably declined over the years, to a Blake Griffinesque 61 percent. To make matters worse, Iguodala was 7-18 on "clutch" free throws this season and 33 percent in the final three minutes. Dre was an automatic miss at the stripe, especially in the "clutch". Sixers fans were just praying for one make and overtime.
In the biggest upset in the history of mankind, not only did Iguodala sink two consecutive free throws – always a rare occurrence – but he sank two consecutive free throws to win a game, and a Playoff Series! Afterwards, he credited the unlikely duo of Tony Battie and his toddler-son for his clutch free throws.
The Bulls series was the perfect combination of bizarre and awesome, and we were just getting started.
The following series versus the Celtics was up; it was down. Kevin Garnett bashed Philly fans. More ugly basketball was played, and it all came down to a game seven, decided by two Rajon Rondo jump shots? Including a 28-foot bomb?! Bizarre, to the max.
To recap the bizarreness of the Sixers Playoff run:
- The number eight seed beat the number one seed.
- The "worst player in the NBA" emerged as the Sixers best big man, and certified Kevin Garnett stopper.
- Andre Iguodala hit the two clutchest Sixers free throws in the past decade.
- Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Luol Deng, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, Greg Stiemsma were all injured, or played with injuries against the Sixers.
- Elton Brand was named one of the 'hottest' players in the NBA.
- Sixers CEO, Adam Aron, pimped and promised the most mind-blowing player introductions in the history of life.
- Allen Iverson was on the court of a Sixers playoff game.
- The Sixers celebrated their first Playoff win in forever, by going to a strip club.
- A game was decided on a moving screen.
- Doug Collins resorted to a 90s kids movie to inspire his team.
- Brandon Bass out-scored the entire Sixers roster in one quarter.
- And the Sixers were eventually eliminated by a Rajon Rondo three, as the dagger.