CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Maurice Cheeks got everything he wanted except the win.
He wanted to see his core of Andre Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert and Andre Miller play much fewer minutes (Two out of three isn’t bad on that front). Cheeks also wanted to see the reserves receive extended minutes. And of course Cheeks would have liked to enter the postseason on a winning streak instead of a four-game skid.
Say what you want about the Sixers, but their games rarely lack drama. And coming back from 23 points down in the third quarter to take a one point lead three different times in the final three minutes, showed again the fight the Sixers have in them.
Of course the Sixers will have to hang their collective hats on the fact that they never give up, because they enter their playoff series against the Detroit Pistons having lost five of their last six after Wednesday's 115-109 defeat to the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. The Sixers fought hard in the last two games and showed true signs of life. They overcame a 12-point fourth quarter deficit before losing Monday’s controversial 91-90 decision to Cleveland.
Most of all, the Sixers didn’t let the disappointment from the Cleveland game to linger.Cheeks’ game plan for fewer minutes worked with Miler and Dalembert, who combined to play about 39 minutes and 30 seconds.Iguodala was a different story. He played the entire second half and logged 36 minutes for the game. That doesn’t seem like much of a vacation, even for somebody who ended the season averaging 39 minutes and 32 seconds a game.
And it wasn’t a coincidence that the Sixers were outscored 40-26 in the second quarter when Iguodala, Miller and Dalembert didn’t play at all.
There are two ways to look at the way the Sixers never quit no matter how big the deficit is. The positive side is that it shows a lot of heart. The negative side is that getting down by more than 20 points in a game or double-digits in the fourth quarter is not a good recipe to success.
Especially against a team like Detroit.The players and Cheeks insist that the end of the season skid won’t affect them in the playoffs. One feels there has to be some bit of doubt in the back of their minds, until the Sixers win their next game.