The Sixers had a chance to close out their first round series with the Bulls on Tuesday night in Chicago, but the wrestling match that was the fifth game of the series went to the Bulls by the paltry score of 77-69.
Tonight at the Wells Fargo Center the Sixers will again try to close out the series. In all but Game 2, the Sixers have shot the ball horrendously, but somehow have managed to lead by 3 games to 2. Tonight the key for them, they say, is getting off to a quick start.
"Early on, we need to look to offensively be confident," said forward Andre Iguodala at this morning's shootaround. "We need to go out there and try to have a sense of groupness out there, getting guys the ball and not make it tough on ourselves."
What has made things especially tough so far this series has been the play of Bulls reserve forward Taj Gibson, who has not only been a force offensively but has also taken Sixers forward Thaddeus Young out of the equation with his defense. Gibson twisted his right ankle in Game 5 in Chicago, limped badly to the locker room in the third quarter, but returned later and played the last few minutes of the game. Gibson stated that he is ready to go tonight.
"He's a guy that's going to iimpose his will on the game, I've always been a big fan of his," said coach Doug Collins of Gibson. "With his high activitiy the fact that he can guard, can get out on the break...They have made a conscious effort when he's in the game to post him against Thad (Young). We have to do a better job at that. We have to take away the primary offense that he brings because normally he's a guy who plays off people. In our series they made a conscious effort when he's in the game to go to him. The one game in here he had 10 or 12 points in the paint in the second quarter. We can't let him come in and make that kind of impact. He's always going to have an impact on the game, the question is how many points is he going to score for them. We'd like to make him be a guy that has to make jump shots than be able to score in the paint."
Should the Sixers get off to that fast start they talked about, it would help negate the advantage Gibson brings when he comes off the bench, usually late in the first quarter.
"We have to get off to a good start and be aggressive early," said center Spencer Hawes. "We need to get some momentum early and get into that good flow."
We will find out if that happens at around 7:10 tonight.