Philly’s Playoff Run: This ain’t over

By Michael Tillery

The Sixers are playing once again with their Philly soul against the wall. No one outside of Pennsylvania gave them a shot to do anything this season–including me. They were horrible early in the season but after Ed Stefanski replaced Billy King, things began to change.

Yeah they lost last night 98-81 in Game 5, but trust me this is going seven even though the entire sports world thinks differently.

Chauncey had his best game of the series and put up a double double with 21 and 12. Sheed had 19, 6 rips and 6 blocks. Rip had his usual night and threw in 20 and Tayshaun had a respectable 17.

The Sixers were led by Dre Iguodala with 21 and Lou Williams with 16. Andre Miller didn’t hit double figures until the third quarter and finished with 13 on 5-17 shooting. The traps set for Iguodala the entire series focused on Miller and many of his shots were put back by Roscoe.

Sammy Dalembert is going to catch mad wreck here for the mohawk he rocked. Willie Green’s barber is responsible for the damage. “LJ” was cut into one side and “SD” into the other. He says “LJ” was for a loved one and “SD” was for strong defense.

Speaking of strong defense…

I think the matchup between Willie Green and Richard Hamilton is the key. Willie has to somehow cancel out Rip by holding him to 15 while also getting 15 of his own. Hamilton is running him all over and through screens that normally cripple guards by the time the fourth quarter comes around. I’m sure that’ll be something Cheeks will stress.

Roscoe says it best here when talking about the fight in the Sixers and Game 6: “The two games we’ve lost they played harder than us and in the three games we’ve won, I think it was a matter of us playing harder than them. It’s gonna be a lot of pushing and shoving…elbows being thrown and all that stuff.”

“(In the three wins) We’ve slowed our offense down–not rushing it. Before we would make one pass and then shot. We just run our offense looking at our options; getting options. We might run the same play two or three times in a row. We might have Rip…Chauncey might feed Rip going to the hole, so it’s nothing fancy. We have business to handle, but we still do our little side jokes out there or whatever. We’ve been in situations like this before so it’s not a lot of pressure and our booty holes aren’t tight.”

Sheed doesn’t speak much but when he does he damn sure makes it memorable.

Watching the presser last night, it seemed the tenor of the questions were resolute this was all but over and Cheeks was almost lulled to sleep because of the sentiment. It was almost as if a switch flipped in Mo’s head to snap out of it. I noticed he was mentally searching to say something his young team could grab on to continue to fight and somehow pull out a victory in Game 6.

Mo Cheeks has been preaching 4 wins the entire series. It’s something Billy Cunningham passed down while he was playing. You could see him telling the notorious hecklers court side in the palace “We’ll be back.”

He didn’t finish fourth in the Coach of the Year voting for nothing. He’s been here before.

He also has given Detroit is proper respect when having to reference the Pistons after questions. This is a team looking to advance in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. They’ve played so many games these last five years and still won 59 during the regular season, so Cheeks knows what he’s up against.

I’ve personally learned a lot from Mo these last couple of months. He will not make any excuses when his team loses. They’ve exhibited some ridiculous resilience since February and have to be one of the most unique teams this decade because of their youthful but unmitigated competitiveness.

He’s been cool and logically collected when a lot of coaches would have been happy with the modicum of success they’ve achieved.

It’s crazy, but covering a team I grew up watching–and loving–this season has been surreal. If you remember Mo lead the Sixers to three Finals here, so he remembers the highs, the lows and cognizant of how the story must not go as it is presently being written. If the Sixers lose tomorrow, it will be something everyone expected. If they win hee has a chance to speed up his squads development and galvanize this city.

During his playing days, his teams battled the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks (a team that in my opinion resembles this Pistons team) for the right to ultimately play the Lakers.

They became the legend with their play and the city wrote it down as fact.

After some bad times, the team and the city are hungry for a new legend. The practices are hungry. The ushers are hungry. He hasn’t stopped coaching and he’s probably hungrier than anyone. This is his chance to put a stamp on not only the history of the city, but the league. He’ll tell you he doesn’t care about that stuff, but if Mo Cheeks does his job, the Sixers have about as good a chance as any.

Will the ghosts of Doc, Moses, Andrew Toney and Dave Zinkoff fall from the rafters Thursday and push this new flavor of Sixers into a new age of success?

We shall see, but don’t count Philly out, for they aren’t built that way.