The 76ers, playoff series winners


by Alex Young

It’s been a long time since those two things were used in the same sentence. In fact, I was 14 the last time it happened and Allen Iverson wasn’t even bankrupt or anything.

All jokes aside, this is awesome for the Sixers. When I was younger, Iverson was in his prime and the team was at its best, the Sixers were my favorite team in the city. When they beat the Lakers in game one of the 2001 NBA Finals it was one of my life’s great moments. They couldn’t keep it up, but it that season was a hell of a ride.

The Sixers last won a playoff series in 2003. They beat the New Orleans Hornets in six games before losing to the Detroit Pistons in the second round, Larry Brown’s last series as Sixers coach. The Sixers have since traded Iverson for 40 cents on the dollar, gone through six coaches,been robbed by Chris Webber, played poorly enough to get the second pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, and won a total of six playoff games before this season. They more or less have been the red-headed step-child of Philadelphia pro sports.

If You had said a month ago that the Sixers would be the most successful team in town come the middle of May, people would have said you were crazy. They limped into the playoffs, but unlike the Flyers and the Phillies, they have overachieved.

They got a little lucky in this series against the Bulls and caught nearly all the breaks in game six. Of all the people they would have wanted to end up with the ball when they needed to foul, it would have been Omar Asik and that’s exactly what happened. He’s a 40% free throw shooter and he was totally gassed at that point in the game. He bricked his foul shots and the Sixers had life.

It only took a few seconds for Andre Igoudala to go end-to-end but so many things ran through my mind. “We’ve got numbers,” I thought. “There’s no way he isn’t taking this himself.” “Oh god! If he goes to the rim he’s going to get fouled. PLEASE PASS THE BALL ANDRE YOU SUCK AT FREE THROWS!” When he finally did get fouled, I was nervous for that very reason. I’ve watched him constantly miss free throws all season, but this felt different.

Igoudala has never been past the first round of the playoffs. He is scorned for being overpaid and overrated. He had to want this win just as much as the sold-out Philly crowd. If he had missed even one, it would have given Chicago one more chance to set up a game seven in Chicago, a game I for one believe that the Sixers would have lost.

He stepped to the line for his first shot. Sank it. There was no way he would miss the second. After the Bulls missed their desperation three, the crowd went nuts. Like, ‘we won something bigger than a first round series’ nuts. And while it might not be a legitimate eight-over-one seed upset, the path the Sixers took to the win in the series and the game was so crazy and think-of-all-the-nutty-things-that-had-to-happen unbelievable, the fans deserved to let loose and celebrate.

I’ve been big critic of Andre Igoudala all season, but I could not be happier for him and this team. They face the Celtics next, who they actually match up pretty well against. As long as they keep up their intensity and don’t let the Celtics slow down the game too much, they might have half a chance to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. It ain’t Fo, Fo, Fo, but a nice run in the playoffs could be just what this team needs to ignite Philadelphia into the basketball hotbed it was a decade ago.

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