Based on my memory, tonight marks the fifth time this season that the Sixers have lost on a game-winning shot. That is a difference between a 23-24 record and a 28-19 record. I'm just saying. Is it bad luck? Bad defense? I'm not sure, but it sucks balls.
Even though the loss hurts pretty bad right now, I've been through enough of these start looking at the positives. And tonight the Sixers have a lot to be proud of. The question of whether a blowout loss would have been better than a Ray Allen buzzer-beater was brought up in the game thread, and I'd take this loss every time. At least I can say that my team hung in there with the champs for 47 minutes and 54 seconds.
In the first two meetings with the Celtics, the Sixers lost by 24 and 19. The beginning of tonight's game looked to be heading down the same path. The Celtics held a 32-20 lead at the end of one and had it as large as 15 in the second quarter. Then something happened. Reggie Evans. Reggie was an absolute monster. His 8 points and 10 rebounds don't exactly jump off the stat sheet as "studly", but he was the main reason that the Sixers went from down 15 in the second quarter to down only 1 heading into the half. He almost single-handedly forced the Celtics into committing 9 turnovers in the second quarter. They average 15 on the season. He energized the crowd. He energized the team. He brought that same swagger he brought to the playoffs to tonight's game. I can't tell you how many times I heard the crowd chant, "Reggie-Reggie-Reggie!" His intensity carried over to his teammates. I've never seen so many fist-pumps and emphatic hand-claps from the players. Ray Allen was asked a question to the effect of "Why were the Sixers so tough tonight?" or "How did the Sixers come back from 15?" His answer was blunt. He starred straight at the dude asking the question and said, "Reggie Evans (pause) Reggie Evans." That sums it up right there. And if you're a big believer in the +/- stats, the Sixers were +14 with Reggie on the floor tonight.
Speaking of the crowd, they we're excellent tonight. Surprisingly, there were only 16,000+ , but they were definitely the loudest of the season. I've seen quite a few Sixers games where the announcers comment on how quiet it is, and I've noticed it on TV as well. Tonight they were booing in the first quarter, as they should have, then chanted Reggie's name and "Defense" for the rest of the game. I hope they keep it up. They along with Reggie Evans, helped the Sixers fight back into the ball game.
-Andre Iguodala. His game continues to impress me. All aspects of it. He made another strong case to be Jameer Nelson's replacement in the all-star game with another ballsy shot to give the Sixers a two-point lead with 6 second to go. Had Ray Allen's shot not fallen, he would have been credited with the game-winner. This is a new aspect to the Igg-man's game, and it's awesome. I've went from having 0% confidence in him hitting to a game-winner to about 30%. Baby steps.
-Reggie Evans, obviously.
-The 16,831 fans in the Wach, minus the Celtics section.
-Willie Green playing 16 minutes.
-Forcing the Celtics to turn the ball over 20 times.
-Committing only 9 turnovers ourself.
-24-28 from the line.
-Lou's numbers don't look fantastic, but watching the game, I can tell you that he played pretty well in the second half.
-Marreese Speights played 5 minutes, which was enough time for him to grab a nasty one-handed rebound, put it back, and throw down two monster dunks. He was fantastic for those 5 minutes.
-Seeing some intensity out of the Sixers. Tonight almost felt like a playoff game.
-The Celtics announcers. Tommy Heinsohn specifically. I have never been more irritated with any announcers in my life, in any sport. I really wished I had taped tonight's game, so I could go back and count how many times he complained about the officiating. I mean, I'm obviously a little biased, being a Sixers fan and all, but I thought the game was officiated just like any other NBA game. The Celtics were getting calls in the first quarter. The Sixers got some calls and it evened out. It wasn't necessary to bring up the officiating 30 times. He even took it as far as saying, "These refs should be embarrassed," and "The Celtics won an 8-5 game tonight." That second quote took it way too far in my opinion, but keep in mind, this is the same guy who's famous for this clip. Enjoy.
-Thaddeus Young leaving his man, who just so happened to be Ray Allen, on the final play of the game. I can't think of any specific examples, but I seem to remember Thad leaving his man in this situation more than once. Someone needs to inform him to stay on his man, especially when it's Ray Allen and your team is up by 2. Thad also had only 1 rebound in 36 minutes. This is coming from our starting power forward. I love Thad, but he's still got a lot of work to do.
-Andre Miller shooting 8-19 from the field. Things happen.
-Elton Brand barely played and scored zero points. It wasn't necessarily his fault, but I still don't like watching our multi-million dollar man on the bench for 40 minutes a game. It's hard to find PT when Reggie Evans severely outplays you though.
-Dalembert's 13 shots.
-Losing on ANOTHER game-winner!
At least it wasn't a blowout. At least the Sixers didn't let the New Jersey game linger. At least we know that we can hang with the champs. Much like the losses on the Parker and Dirk game-winners, I'm going to sleep well tonight. The Sixers played well enough to win, and probably deserved to. The ball just didn't bounce their way...again. After watching all these close games and big wins, I'm confident in saying that we, the Sixers, are a good team. Every team has weaknesses, but I think we can hang with most teams on any given night. Next up, Jim O'Brien and the Pacers come to town Thursday. Our perimeter defense will be put to the test yet again, especially with Danny "I'm all of a sudden the greatest fantasy player of all-time" Granger on the court.
Now I'm off to watch American Idol. This is the girl I want to win, for obvious reasons.