Since the All-Star break, the Sixers have been painful to watch - even in their victories. Tonight they continued to disappoint. They had a 10-point lead with 8:34 to go, against a good Orlando Magic team. I thought tonight's win would give the team the momentum boost they needed for the rest of the season, and the playoff run. Silly me.
The saying goes. "Bad teams find a way to lose." That's exactly what the Sixers did tonight, and have been doing all season.
The first mini-meltdown: Down three with 17 seconds remaining, Iguodala gets to the line. Making both free throws cuts the lead to one, and puts the pressure back on Orlando to make free throws... but no, Iguodala decides to miss one. Free throw shooting continues to be a big problem for this team, especially down the stretch, and especially with Andre Iguodala. What happened to the Iguodala of 2006-2007, when he was getting to the line more than seven times a game and hitting 82% of 'em? Dude's gotta step it up on his freebies.
Second mini-meltdown: This one happened seconds later. After Iguodala made the second of two free throws, the Sixers were only down two with 17 seconds left. All they had to do was foul the Magic and hope they missed at least one free throw. Did that happen? No. Instead they packed five guys near the inbounder and left Marcin Gortat (who?) open, and I mean WIDE open, like no one within 50 feet of him for an easy dunk. Down four with 15 seconds left. That was the dagger.
Willie Green played decent, not fabulous, but decent. I figured he deserved a shout out since I rarely have anything good to say about him.
Other than that, the only bright spot from tonight's game was Andre Miller. He tried to single-handedly carry the team down the stretch, matching each Magic basket with one of his own. There was a two-minute stretch late in the game, from the 4:35 mark to the 2:18 mark, where Miller went 4-4, 2-2 from the line, scoring 10 straight points. He came just short of beating the Magic by himself. If this ends up being Miller's last season as a Sixer, he'll be sorely missed and the team will suck, and I repeat, suck without him.
Until further notice, I'll think of the Sixers as a bad/mediocre Eastern Conference team. Tonight's game could have very well been a playoff preview. If that's the case, we can say good-bye to that "making noise" goal. The Magic shot 37 threes tonight, and made 15 of 'em. If you can't beat this team when you're at home, Dwight Howard is held to 12 points and 8 rebounds, you shoot 48% from the field 55% from three and 79% from the line, and only turn the ball over 13 times, you're not going to win a playoff series against them . I'm sorry. I'm normally optimistic, but I can't take any more of these buzzer-beaters and blown leads.
Hornets on Monday. Yay.