Monday, March 7, 2011

To Dream The Sixer Dream

Tonight in Phila-delphia, the Sixers continued their recent run of more than compe-tence, taking care of the Warriors in an up-tempo game where Andre Iguodala had his second straight triple-double. And it's starting to get to the point where we actually are... goddamit!... starting to get sucked into believing in them. No, seriously.

And sure, it's easy to throw dirt on this six of seven game streak. Beating the Warriors and Wolves at home isn't exactly going to mean anything in the playoffs, and there are any number of Eastern Conference tomato cans to help you get to the 45 wins and up stage. But well, even the losses are looking good at this point. No one's playing better than Dallas right now, and the club was nip and tuck with them all game. The loss in Memphis is to a team that's better than advertised, and they responded to it with a win the next night in Houston. And those two losses are the only ones in the last month.

Adding to the intrigue? Well, the win brings them to just a half-game behind New York in the race for the sixth spot... and the sixth spot right now gets you Miami. Yeah, the paper tigers that no one wants to win, the team that's got all kinds of last minute issues and no bench. And yes, Miami is 2-0 against the Sixers this year, but both of those losses were in the first sixteen games of the year, when the club was playing people like Andres Nocioni and Jason Kapono, rather than Jodie Meeks and Evan Turner.

In a Heat series, we'll see the favorites establish an early lead... then lose it against the superior Sixers bench. You'll also see Dwyane Wade or LeBron James struggle, since Andre Iguodala will make someone disappear. Elton Brand could easily average 20 and 10 in a series here, and Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams could do real damage against people like Mike Bibby and Mike Miller.

There's also this. Let's imagine a Heat-Sixers series in which the road team steals a game in Miami, then wins Game 3. How much would that play in the national media? How hard would that wake up the echoes in Philadelphia, and give Philly Fan a chance to care about hoop again? (And yes, impossible... except that Doug Collins is coaching like a maniac right about now, and Erik Spoelstra has got a fork in his back that's a foot wide.)

In all reality, March will be hard on this team. There's a six-game Western road trip where they could easily fall into bad ways, and the end of the month sees road games in Miami and Chicago that undo a lot of the progress here. The last 20 games of the season aren't looking at all encouraging; I'd be real happy with 12-8. And as good as the bench has been, they are an Iguodala injury away from being less than ordinary, and no matter how good Brand has been this year, he's still a scary proposition as a foundation, given the injury history.

But then you have games like tonight, when Monta Ellis goes off and there's every reason to let it slide, since that's what they've done for years and years... and well, no.

It gives a man hope. Almost as much as the Heat falling to bits, yet again, at home and in the clutch. And a man can dream, since it's such a lovely way to imagine the Heat's year ending...

1 comment:

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