The Sixers arrived in Orlando feeling pretty decent about themselves. They felt they were better than people gave them credit for being. They thought they had a shot in this series against the Magic.
And now what?
Game 1: Sixers 100, Magic 98.
Andre Iguodala hit the jumper that won it with 2.2 seconds after bricking two free throws with about a minute left. Hedo Turkoglu missed the desperation three-pointer at the end. And now the Sixers lead by a game. They have accompished what they needed to accomplish.
The effort was the story, the gumption the Sixers showed on the road. They were down by 81-68 with 11:10 to go in the fourth quarter and they persisted. Dwight Howard was killing them for three quarters but they endured. An Andre Miller drive to the hoop cut the deficit to 84-81 with 6:26 to go and this was every bit a ballgame. It was tied at 91-91 with less than 4 minutes left. It was 96-95 with 1:07 left when Iguodala bricked two free throws. It was 98-98 when Donyell Marshall bombed in a three-pointer with 34.8 seconds left. It was right there.
Howard had big numbers, 31 points and 16 rebounds. But they weren't enough, as the Sixers won this thing with their bench in the fourth quarter -- Lou Williams, Theo Ratliff and Donyell Marshall all logging big minutes at the end.