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SIXERS BACK, SIXERS BACK, ALL THESE BES SCREAMING THAT SIXERS BACK

May 19, 2012, 12:19 AM EDT

The Philadelphia 76ers somehow stole Game Four from the Celtics to even up their second-round series at two games a piece.
What is going on with this professional basketball team. Just
when you think they’re gonna zig, they zag, just when you think they’ve
got it figured out, they post a 12-point first quarter, and just when
you think they’re gonna roll over, they get to the line a whole bunch of
times in the third quarter, start to gain some momentum, and complete
one of the most unlikely comebacks in an NBA post-season absolutely full
of them. Now all eyez are on the Celtics as they return to Boston,
still with the home-court advantage but missing out on a clear chance to
finish out the league’s most perplexing bunch o’ scrappers.

And once again, the comeback win was sealed by that clutchiest of clutch
clutchsters, Andre Iguodala. With the Sixers and Celtics tied at 83,
Iguodala scored five enormous answered points in the final 90 seconds of
this one to put the Sixers firmly in control of their own destiny.  All
of those memories of clanked jumpers, layup-drive no-calls, and general
late-game meltdowns are quickly fading to black as Andre Iguodala, Guy
You Can Count on To Do Shit starts getting chest-puffier with each
unlikely playoff victory.

First and foremost, the Sixers deserve salutations for powering through
one of the worst shooting nights in playoff history, courtesy of
second-year goofball Evan Turner. The box score says that he ended at
5-22, but we all know that he was actually 2-67 in this one, missing
from just about every possible spot on the court, on predominantly open
looks to boot. We generally love Evan here at the Level, and we’re sure
he was just acting on Coach Collins’ orders to “Be Aggressive, B-E
Aggressive,” but hoooooly hell would it be nice if the Extraterrestrial
actually made some jumpers. (Turner did finish with 16 and 9, with only
one turnover in 36 minutes, so it wasn’t all bad from ET.)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, back to praise for Andre
Iguodala. Specifically, praise to him (and perhaps Coach Collins as
well) for figuring out a way to really help this team on
offense—spotting up in the corner for catch-and-shoot threes. ‘Dre’s
pull-up three game has never been phenomenal, but he’s shown an aptitude
all year for connecting off the catch-and-shoot, helping to contribute
to his career-high 39% rate from deep this season. Tonight, he went
three for three on such shots, including the biggest shot of the night,
when he converted on a Lou Williams drive-and-kick from behind the arc
to put the Sixers up two possessions with less than a minute to go.

Speaking of Sour Patch Lou, it was easily the Sweetest game of the
post-season for our Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, as he scored 15
points on 5-11 shooting—including a stretch in the second quarter where
he elbowed the Ballers back into the game on a three and two straight
three-point plays—as well as handing out a team-high eight assists. I
give Lou a whole lot of crap on this website, and a lot of the time he
deserves it, but if he played more games like he did tonight—scoring,
but not forcing the issue, and making all the right passes—I wouldn’t
even consider joining the monastery when we give him 5 years, $35
million in the off-season.

Besides ‘Dre and Lou, the heroes of the game for the Sixers were the
closing frontcourt for the Sixers, Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young. Elton
Brand and Spencer Hawes were as miserable tonight as they have been all
series, combining for a mere five (FIVE!!) points tonight, but the
Sixers got energy, hustle, rebounding, and (by comparison anyway)
scoring from the Allen/Young duo, and Collins was wise to ride them down
the stretch, as they were able to hang and bang with Garnett, who was
finally kept in check tonight, scoring a mere nine points on 3-11
shooting (with seven turnovers!) as Lavoy & Thad combined for 20 and
19 rebounds. It’ll be interesting to see if one or both of these guys
gets stuck in the starting lineup for Game Five, given how much more
effective they’ve been than the dinged-up Brand and the, uh, generally
deficient Hawes.

Of course, I’d be a little remiss if I didn’t mention another MVP for
Philly tonight—our boys in black and white. The Sixers shot 36 free
throws to the Celtics’ 19, many of which came in the second and third
quarters as it seemed like the Sixers were never going to hit another
field goal again. It felt like the Ballers were almost getting pity
calls for a while, with the C’s getting clobbered on a couple layup
drives on their end while the whistles remained silent. It’ll all
basically even out in time so I’m not gonna cry too foul (NPI) on it or
nothing, but it has to be mentioned in explaining how the Sixers were
able to win this game after starting out down 18-3 and still trailing
51-33 at half.

How else were they able to win this game? Well, we maybe never really
know for sure. It was a little like that Grizzlies-Clippers Game One
where you were watching it thinking “Hah, that’s funny, the Sixers are
only down 14,” “Hah, that’s funny, the Sixers are only down eight,”
“Wait a minute…the Sixers are only down four?” “Did the Sixers just
take the lead?” “HOLY CRAP ARE THE SIXERS GOING TO WIN THIS GAME??” It
was like a Robb Stark sneak attack—by the time that the Celtics (or
anyone else) know what was happening, it had already happened. And
really, how can we be surprised by anything this team does at this
point? What a weird post-season.

Game Five from Boston this Monday. Who knows what other crazy twists and
turns this post-season takes from here? Dunno, but hope they don’t
involve anymore 2-67 shooting nights from Evan Turner. They give me the
saddies.