Thursday, April 30, 2009
Someone forgot to tell the Magic that they weren't supposed to win without their best player. As often happens when teams are without their top scoring threat, the rest of the Magic played with extra intensity and played arguably their best game of the playoffs in dismantling the Sixers, 114-89.
Orlando came out firing, making shot after shot to build a double digit lead early in the first quarter. With Dwight Howard out, the Magic focused on shooting threes and finally starting hitting them consistently, something they hadn't done all series long. Their defense wasn't spectacular, but it didn't need to be because the Sixers couldn't hit a shot all night.
Philly was used to falling behind in this series but they always found a way to get back into the game. Tonight was a different matter, however, as they came out flat and never seemed to respond to the first punch the Magic delivered. The Sixers played without any urgency, as if they would win the game simply by showing up because of the Howard suspension. They never tried to take the ball down the lane and take advantage of not having Howard blocking shots in the paint, instead they stuck to the outside and took jumpshots. And, as we all know, the Sixers do not shoot well from the outside.
So ends another Sixers season in the first round of the playoffs. It's hard to get too upset at the Sixers for bowing out in the first round, especially since they were without Elton Brand, but that doesn't mean we should be happy with how they played in Game Six. They were in front of their home crowd and yet the Sixers completely lacked energy and had long stretches where it didn't even look like they were trying. As you know, we don't put up with that in Philly, so the Sixers were rightfully booed throughout the game.
The Sixers once again made things interesting in the first round of the playoffs, but once again they proved that they aren't ready to play with the big boys when it matters. As fans, all we can do is hope that a healthy Elton Brand would have made a world of difference for the Sixers. We'll have to wait to find out in the first round next year.