Watching your favorite team lose their fourth straight game is never a good feeling. It's especially disappointing when the highly coveted fifth seed is now officially out of reach. However; I went into tonight's match-up with extremely low expectations, and in doing so, ended up much happier with the outcome.
I'd say the Sixers put forth a valiant effort against a much superior team. The Cavs are good -- really good -- but the Sixers hung tough all evening (one player in particular). That said, like most good teams do, the Cavs answered every single run and mini-run the Sixers had with one of their own. The lead was eventually cut to two with nine and change to go, but I never felt confident, nor optimistic that the Sixers were going to win the game.
Here are a few things to take out of the loss:
- Coach DiLeo has made a ton of questionable decisions as of late. I'm not sure what he's thinking playing the Andres 40+ minutes in blowouts. I'm not sure what he's thinking keeping the king of +/- and zone-buster, Donny-Ice on the bench. I'm not sure why he's playing Theophilus during crunch time when he hasn't had a positive +/- since April 1. Tony D is starting to remind me a lot of the guy he replaced. Paging Tom Thibodeau.
- Andre Iguodala did as good a job defending King James as anyone could possibly ask for. He also had enough energy to drop an efficient 26 points and posterize LeBron himself.
- Continuing his great month of April, Lou Williams had himself another solid game. He had a couple bad possessions when he was running the offense, but we've all established he's not a point guard. Overall, he's averaging 17 points per game on 50% shooting in April. This is coming from a guy who's shot 39 percent on the season. The difference has been, settling for less jumpshots and dialing down the degree of difficulty on his other shots.
So, now what? The Sixers are 40-39 and will either face the Magic or the Celtics in the first round. You know what I have to say about that? Bring 'em on. Being the coping sports fan that I am, I tend to talk myself into the scenario most likely to occur. Sure, playing a tough series against the Hawks would have been fun, but an opportunity to upset one of the Eastern Conference's "big 3" has much more potential.
Six seed, seven seed, whatever. Hopefully Thad returns and we win at least a coupe games. Back-to-back years of playoff experience for this young team will be invaluable to their development.