The Philadelphia 76ers went to battle in a Game 2 that was so ugly if it were my dog I would shave its butt and teach it to walk backward. However, after it was all said and done the outcome was beautiful, and they arrive home with the series tied 1-1 with Wednesday night's Game 3 looming large.
Don’t get me wrong, Game 2 had an exciting finish with great back-and-forth action that included 10 ties or lead changes in the final five minutes. But the first three quarters of the game were excruciatingly painful to watch no matter who you were rooting for.
How about that stretch in the third quarter where the score remained at 43-38 for over three minutes, during which the two teams combined to shoot 0-for-8 and commit three turnovers? It seemed like every quarter would include three- to four-minute stretches where one team would go scoreless.
Nevertheless, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and for Sixers fans who watched this team lose every close game they played this season (not an exaggeration—they lost all eight games this season that were decided by four points or less), Game 2’s one-point win was a thing of beauty—which as any Keats fan can tell you, is a joy forever.
In addition to getting a huge victory, I think the 76ers, and specifically Doug Collins, have realized that Lavoy Allen deserves as many minutes as possible. Even though Elton Brand started, Allen still played 30 minutes to Brand's 18.
Also, while I realize the plus/minus stat doesn’t always tell the whole story, Allen and the Sixers were plus-21 when he was in the game and minus-7 when Brand was playing. In my eyes, Allen can hit the mid-range jumper just as effectively as Brand with the added bonus of being more active on defense as well as on the boards.
The other new development that I took away from Philly’s Game 2 triumph was Evan Turner stepping up down the stretch. He scored six points in the final three minutes of the game to offer this team a closing option that was missing in Game 1’s loss. It was a role that he often fulfilled in college at Ohio State, and while he might not be a great shooter, I think it works in his favor because it forces him to attack the rim, where he excels.
So what does Game 3 have in store for us? Well, I fully expect the Celtics to come out fired up looking to quiet the Philly crowd after their disappointing finish in the last game. But I think the Sixers can weather any early pressure that Boston might put on them, and I like their chances to win this game. The injuries that are hampering Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, along with the Celtics' lack of depth, will be too much for them to overcome.
Clap your hands everybody, for the Philadelphia 76ers!