The 76ers should have defeated the Milwaukee Bucks. It wouldn't have even taken a good performance to win. A solid game, even decent probably would have gotten the job done. The Bucks were awful in the first quarter. At one point early in the second quarter, the Sixers had a three pointer that would have pushed their lead to 15. Instead, it stayed at 12.
The Sixers third quarter was really bad and the fourth wasn't much better until the final few minutes, and then the last few possessions of regulation -- for both teams, really -- were empty. The Bucks' Brandon Jenning made all three of his field goals in the overtime and Milwaukee won, 93-87.
If Sixers guard Lou Williams had not strained his right hamstring, the Sixers probably would have won this game. At the end of the third quarter, Williams drew a foul from Jennings and then immediately pointed toward the Sixers' trainer. He made one of two free throws, but very soon after was taken out of the game. Initially he stayed on the bench, but he then went back to the locker room and did not return. After the game he said he would see a doctor on Sunday and that he doesn't have a diagnosis yet. Even though Williams was 1 for 5 when he left the game, he's the Sixers best off-the-dribble threat. With Milwaukee's defense geared toward slowing down the opposition's sets, it would have been a luxury for Doug Collins to give the ball to Williams and allow him to spark some offense. What happened without Williams was difficult to watch: Andre Iguodala airballed a short jump shot, point guard Jrue Holiday missed a pull-up jumper off of a screen, and Holiday lost control of the ball (or made a bad pass, couldn't tell without the replay) on the Sixers final set in regulation.
On the final two possessions of regulation, both with a chance to take the lead, Collins gave the ball to Holiday. Asked afterward about that decision, Collins said, "We went to Dre a couple of times and he wasn't able to knock down a shot."
This was one of those games where there wasn't really a "hot hand." Elton Brand played well, making the tying jumper with about 1:45 remaining in regulation. But even he missed a few jumpers that could have put the team on top. Jodie Meeks was 2 for 3 from three, but the Bucks weren't going to leave him at game's end and Meeks isn't especially adept at creating his own shot. Even Holiday wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire: he finished the game 6 for 20 from the floor and 1 for 4 from three. He did have 15 points and 10 assists. So Collins split the opportunities between Holiday and Iguodala and neither came up with the needed shot.
One day after clinching a playoff berth, on a night you'd think each player would be guarding against a letdown, Iguodala's performance seemed especially confusing. He finished 2 for 8 from the floor, 0 for 2 from three, 3 for 4 from the free throw line, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, and 7 points in 40:56 of playing time. As usual, Iguodala was strong on defense. It was offensively that he seemed disorganized, almost preoccupied with something else. There were a number of flubbed fastbreak opportunities and a crucial 15-foot jumper that only went about 14 feet.
The Sixers are talking about winning a first-round playoff series (they are, Thaddeus Young said this before the game: "I don’t know what anybody else is thinking, but me personally I’'m just like, ‘Whoever we play, let’s just be ready.’ Let’s be ready to blow by them and get out of the first round. It’s the team’s goal. Most of us haven’t been past the first round so it’s definitely something we want to accomplish. Get into the second round and get familiar with things.") These final five games will tell us if they are capable of seriously contending with either the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat (one of which will likely be their opponent), or if they're just pleased to have made the playoffs and have this city somewhat excited about basketball again.
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