Friday, April 24, 2009

Young, Sixers shock Magic to take series lead

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The Orlando Magic were considered by many to be an elite team that had a great shot at knocking off the Cavaliers or Celtics and making it to the NBA Finals. They won 59 games in the regular season and were led by a dominant big man in Dwight Howard. The Sixers limped into the playoffs with a .500 record and were simply happy to be there and not expected to do much of anything in the playoffs without Elton Brand.

Three games into this first round series and you would swear these two teams switched jerseys. After each team took turns dominating in the first two games of the series, the Sixers made the most of their home court advantage and jumped out to a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter. The Sixers saw that lead swell to as much as 17 points in the third quarter before the Magic finally woke up and took over the game, pulling it close and tying it up late in the 4th quarter.

Enter Thaddeus Young. With the game tied at 94, Young made a layup with 2.2 seconds left to give the Sixers the win over the Magic, 96-94. It was only Young's third basket of the game, but he made it count when it mattered. Andre Iguodala had another big game for the Sixers, putting up 29 points, 4 assists, 2 steals and grabbing 7 boards. Iggy once again missed two crucial free throws at the end of the game and he once again escaped being the goat due to a last second shot. Andre Miller also nearly put up a triple double with 24 points, 7 assists and 9 boards. Think the Sixers should make every effort to re-sign this guy?

While the Magic did have a big comeback to make this one a game down the stretch, their play has been nothing but disappointing. Dwight Howard was basically forced to do everything by himself tonight, dropping 36 points on 12 of 16 shooting. Orlando isn't getting much from its role players and its getting absolutely nothing from its bench, two factors that could lead to an early playoff exit for any team.

The Sixers are holding true to recent playoff form. If you remember last season against the Pistons, the Sixers won Game 1 by a large margin, got blown out in Game 2 and went on to win Game 3. Of course, last year they subsequently lost Games 4, 5 and 6 and were ousted from the playoffs by Detroit. So, what makes things different this year? For one, the Sixers actually look like they are just as good as the Magic. When they played the Pistons last year, Detroit had long stretches where they weren't even trying and that's why the Sixers were able to surprise them. The Magic seem to be doing everything they can in this series but the Sixers are simply outplaying them right now.

Hopefully everyone is jumping on this Sixers bandwagon, they look poised to have an interesting playoff run. Jump on, there's plenty of room!

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