Moments before the start of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, a very familiar announcement was heard.
“A six-foot guard from Georgetown University, number 3: ALLLLLLLLLEN IIIIIIIIVERSON.”
The Wells Fargo Center erupted as “The Answer” took the court donning a Lou Williams jersey and Sixers cap. The Sixers wouldn’t disappoint their enigmatic predecessor, as they took Game 6 from the Celtics 82-75, forcing a decisive Game 7 in Boston May 26.
But before I get to Game 6, let’s recap.
If Sixers fans were able to refrain from putting their fists through their television screens during the first half of Game 4, they were treated to one of the best Sixers games since Iverson stomped over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals.
Before the opening tipoff, Kevin Garnett put his hand over a TNT camera so he wouldn’t be seen tying his shorts — class act — but when the game started, Garnett and the rest of the Celtics filled the lenses with made shots and forced turnovers, jumping out to a 14-0 lead.
Elton Brand was once again listed as CNP, as in “Can Not Play.”
The Celtics were all smiles as they headed into the locker room up 15 at halftime. While there didn’t seem to be much hope, it was critical to remember that the third quarter had been the Sixers best all season, and they came out firing.
After only making nine field goals in the entire first half, the Sixers were able to rally, shooting 22-43 from the floor in the second. Evan Turner chipped in 16 points, and Williams had 15 off the bench, but it was Andre Iguodala who took over down the stretch, hitting a crucial three-pointer to put the game on ice. The Sixers ultimately came back from 18 points down in the second half to win by nine.
Game 5 in Boston started out close and got out of hand quickly. The Celtics dominated the third and fourth quarters, going to Brandon Bass — yes, Bass — for whom the Sixers had no answer. Brand sprung into action, scoring 19 points, but it didn’t matter, as the rest of the squad lagged behind and the Celtics cruised to a 101-85 victory.
In unrelated news, it appears as though The Joker from “The Dark Knight” has become the head of officiating for the NBA because these playoffs have become a world without rules. I’m pretty sure Turner would need Garnett to beat him in the head with a baseball bat to get a foul call.
Anyway, the Sixers were on the ropes as they welcomed the Celtics back to Philadelphia for Game 6.
The first half was a slop fest consisting of missed shots and turnovers on both sides. The Celtics owned the backboards and made free throws unlike the Sixers, taking a 36-33 lead into the locker room.
The Sixers had trouble containing the Celtics at the start of the second half, but on the night of May 23, that problem didn’t arise. The Sixers slowly built on their lead in front of 20,000 “fair weather fans,” as Garnett calls them.
Jrue Holiday led the charge, scoring 20 points to go along with six dimes. Brand had a nice game again with 13 points, while Turner was not great but had himself 12. Iguodala missed four free throws but made a huge pair down the stretch to finish with 12 points.
In the fourth quarter, Iguodala rejected a dunk of Paul Pierce, blocking his shot with such ferocity that I’m pretty sure Pierce has to legally change his last name to Iguodala because “Iggy” became his daddy.
While the game time for Game 7 is yet to be determined — if the Miami Heat win Game 6 of the other Eastern Conference Semifinal series, it will most likely be at 8 p.m., and if the Indiana Pacers win, it will most likely be at 5 p.m. — the game will answer a huge question that has not been clearly deciphered thus far.
Will the youthful legs of the 76ers beat out the experience of the Celtics?
That remains to be seen and will be one of the many interesting storylines surrounding this Game 7, but hey, Sixers fans, getting to watch a game in late May? Not too bad, is it?