Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Different Kind Of Ending

In the second quarter of today's Heat-Sixers game, in the middle of a Heat run that was their usual "OK, children, it's time to go to bed" routine that erased a 16-point lead, LeBron James was in the clear after yet another turnover. Jrue Holiday tried to close and strip, and missed, running through the man. James finished at the rim awkwardly, falling heavily into a cameraman. And the Sixers, with the opportunity to have a 4-on-5 possession... stared at James, waiting for a foul to be called, or just maybe in deference to him to see if he'd yell at the ref, or run back into the play and make a block.

And that's when I started writing an epitaph of how the Sixers are just not ready to win, and might not ever be. Particularly when Miami isn't exactly filled with old guys, how the Heat will just get better in time on defense as they learn more about playing with each other, and when even the cranky home crowd marks out for Heat dunks and blocked shots.

There's a certain focus, ruthlessness, and clinical detachment that teams that are ready to win have. They step over bodies, expect foul calls to go their way, play through the whistle and beyond. And that's not the Sixers. This team spent three games basically expecting to lose, and just hoping to have good moments, put up some numbers of their own, and not to get dunked on or cited for particular failure. Hard fouls didn't happen, real anger didn't happen, a strategy of which of Miami's stars were going to be taken away didn't happen. They tried hard, and when the Heat weren't interested, they had nice stretches and positive runs. But there was never a point, even when the Sixers built big leads, that Miami was uncomfortable. And that, really, is the most disturbing part of this series, and why it's just been so little fun to watch.

In the fourth quarter, the Heat threw a block and offensive rebound party, and it seemed like the coup de grace was happening... and then, with the Heat up late, Evan Turner made a shot. Holiday, all 20 years of him, drained a three over Dwyane Wade. After another stop from a Heat team that was suddenly remembering that they aren't good in late and close games, Lou Williams nailed a long three to take the final lead. Elton Brand blocked one of those signature James drives to nowhere, and Turner made the clinching free throws.

And just like that, in about 90 seconds of execution, the Sixers actually had a win over the Heat, for the first time in years. And while it's not quite a series yet, at least it's no longer an embarrassment, and Miami has one more memory of clutch failure to take back on the plane with them. And the crowd forgot their Heat infatuation and went hard, finally, for the home team.

For this club, in this matchup, at this time? It's going to have to be enough.

1 comment:

Atlanta Roofing said...

Awesome job by this group, and by the fans who make their presence known (especially late in the game).
Got their W over the Heat to truly show how much they have improved and showing how they are on the right track.
ZERO pressure on this team, maybe you can hit the Heat in the mouth early. You never know folks.

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