Magic/Sixers Game 1 Recap
The anatomy of a steal.
There’s a banger by Wale called “The Hype.” Ya heard it?
Sometimes we fall into the hype as if it’s something attainable. Some defend it like it’s our Momma’s cooking. A question must be asked: Are the Magic over hyped or the real deal?
The third-seeded Magic were a little banged up coming in, but shot out the box and began to pull away from the sixth-seeded Sixers in the second half. The Magic lead by 18 in the 3rd before the Sixers stormed back in the 4th by creating turnovers and getting big shots from practically everyone on the roster.
The Steal was on. Game 1, Orlando robbery.
Louis Williams was big. He scored 18 points and provided some serious energy off the bench to offset rookie Courtney Lee’s 18.
In the 4th quarter, the Sixers were down 79-65 and looked desperate. Tony DiLeo made his best move of the year by calling on Donyell Marshall and the veteran stepped up by doing his best Robert Horry impression. Marshall was 3-3 from beyond the arc and gave the Sixers mad relief and also the confidence they needed to slam back ferociously.
“You’ve got to understand, when I come into the game we’re usually down 15 points,” Marshall joked. “So my job is just to come in and shoot.”
It’s funny, because there were many games this year when Marshall got no burn, but the UConn product is always ready to do what he does best and there was no bigger time to showcase his range as a sharp shooter.
The Sixers play better when the game gets frantic. They aren’t a team that puts teams away with offensive firepower in the half court set, but when you get careless, they will rock you with passing lane steals leading to jams at the other end. These points come early in the shot clock as a result and could be seen as bonus points that make big opposition leads fade to black.
Late in the 4th, Orlando seemed unable to handle the upstart Sixers and played mad conservative. It should be mentioned that it’s difficult to sustain a big lead at home when the crowd is going bananas and bench players are getting antsy. I noticed Andre Miller—as he sat on the bench—not take a cup of Gatorade from the ball boy. Knowing Dre, he was pissed but helped to facilitate the heroics yet to come.
Although Dwight Howard was monster with 31 Diesels and 16 Mo Malones, he seemed to fade late. When a player has been proclaimed as a superstar, there should be no doubt who gets the ball when there is need for a basket, foul shooting withstanding.
Lets be clear, when I have criticized Dwight, it’s only because I want him to become dominant in all phases. I’m not saying he’s overrated by any means. Don’t get it twisted.
On the other hand, Andre Iguodala seems to have taken the next step and become the Sixers go to man in crucial moments. Hedo Turkoglu forced him to take tough shots most of the game and from my vantage point, I wondered when he would break out and take the deficit personal.
He missed two big free throws just outside of a minute remaining that left the Sixers down one. Howard then slammed home two to push the lead to three.
Marshall then bailed out Iguodala with a three from the left elbow to tie it up.
With 12 seconds left and the ball in his hands, Iguodala hit bottom on a step back 20 footer that proved to be the game winner.
Inexplicably, the Magic chose not to get Howard the ball with 1.8 seconds left. Instead, they went with Hedo throwing up a desperation shot that had no chance.
I could see Iguodala maturing by the minute this season—his confidence growing in the clutch. I spoke to him recently about his recent penchant for hitting the big one:
SLAM: Dre, you’ve been taking and hitting big shots this year—more than enough to be noticed. Obviously, none bigger than the Lakers game-winner, but tonight you made a shot that’s expected of you in a clutch moment. Are you working on your jumper to rely on that shot at the end of games?
AI: “It’s a little bit of both: to keep teams honest because during the game they are gonna pack it in, and you have to step up and make shots. It’s more or less having confidence. The more you shoot, the more confident you’ll be down the stretch.”
His reaction was priceless. There was no crazy emotional outburst and reading his body language it simply said “What now haters? What!”
Andre Miller had 15 points, 7 dimes and 7 boards. Thad Young had 14 and Marshall his big 11.
For the Magic, Howard had the aforementioned 31(18 in the first half), Skip had 15 as did Lewis.
How will the Magic respond? Are they an elite NBA team or just a very good one?
We’ll see in Game 2 Wednesday night in Orlando.
Here’s what Iguodala said after last night’s game according to Sixers.com:
“Down the stretch in the Boston game last week, we had to draw something at the end of the game. It was at the top of the key and those guys did a good job of checking in. Coach called a timeout trying to get his offensive players in just in case somebody helped off and I could hit it off to the corner guy or open man. In that situation, we talked about it before with the way the defense would be set up. I was just amped to try and get the game won for us.”
Detroit put the clamps on Andre this time last year and understandably, he was a little discouraged going into the offseason. Not seeing Tayshaun Prince defend him or Sheed at the rim had to be a big going into last night.
Maybe we are witnessing a star being born. Maybe not, but these are the moments any fan of basketball love cherishes as if the rock was shot out of our own fingertips with zzzz’s on the clock.