There's a feeling around town regarding the Sixers that hasn't been here in quite some time. The hated Boston Celtics are coming to town, and the show won't be about how good the Celtics are, but instead how close have the Sixers come to matching up against the premier team of the East.
Many have sent emails questioning the Sixers strategy in the final moments against the Thunder, when Kevin Durant nailed a game-tying three-pointer with 6.9 seconds left in regulation in what eventually became a 110-105 overtime win for Oklahoma City. Most wanted the Sixers to foul before Durant ever got a chance for the shot.
People also were upset with the Sixers lack of offense down the stretch, especially when a key basket was made and it appeared as if it was another isolation play for Andre Iguodala.
First, I totally agree that having Iguodala with the ball in an isolation at the end of a game is not the best way to go. I don't like isolation, really, for anybody on this team. I'd rather see a play with various options run. Isolating Iguodala, or any player on this roster, rarely works.
As for fouling before Durant's shot, I don't really agree. I've always been one not to give the other team points when you're holding a lead. At some point, your defense has to be able to hold a team from making a three-pointer when they are in absolute in need of one. I understand the wanting to foul concept that a lot of people have mentioned, just saying if i had to coach, I wouldn't have fouled.
Anyway, back to the Celtics. With Wednesday's loss and with the five-game road stretch (tomorrow Milwaukee, Monday Utah, Wednesday Clippers, Friday Sacramento and Saturday Portland) approaching, this makes for a very important game for the Sixers. Most of all, a win would do wonders for the team's confidence heading on the road trip. If the Sixers have any hope of catching the Knicks for the sixth seed in the East, a successful.
It all starts tonight with the Celtics in front of what is sure to be a sell out crowd. Here are some keys for the Sixers:
*Take advantage of their speed. Boston is a little banged up on the inside with Shaquille O'Neal and Glen Davis expected to still be out. That means the Sixers should be able to do a good job of rebounding and getting out on the fastbreak, which is when they are at their best.
*Get over the hump. The Sixers have played well against Boston this season, losing on a last second basket here, and by a mere four points up in Boston. They'll have to believe that they can beat the Celtics before they can go out and do it.
*Contain Rajon Rondo: The Sixers really struggle when the other team's point guard is able to get where he wants on the court, and Rondo has many weapons to feed the ball to. His outside shooting is suspect, so keeping him out front is imperative.
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