The game Sixers fans have been waiting for has finally come and gone. I had the pleasure of sitting in the lower level at the Wachovia Center directly across from the Denver bench for Allen Iverson’s return to Philly, as evidenced by the photograph above. And the game was everything a fan could have hoped for.
This makes two perfect 76ers’ games in a row that I have attended. We got a great high-scoring affair, some fantastic plays on both ends, a very good game from AI and most importantly the Sixers got another win.
Observations from the game
- Sellout crowd (as if we expected anything less) – 20,674. All the speculation leading up to tonight was whether or not Iverson would be well-received and be welcomed with a standing ovation during pre-game. Come on, did anyone really think that wouldn’t happen? We are talking about the most beloved 76er since Julius Erving. Iverson said after the game “I dreamed it up a certain way, and it was better than that.” And I concur, much respect given to the little man.
- Andre Miller brought his A-game on his 32nd birthday. Last game Miller dominated with his post game. He did some more of that, but tonight he really displayed what I consider arguably the best mid-range game in the NBA. Mixed with some swift ball-handling to get in position, Miller nailed jumper after jumper after jumper in that 15-17 foot range. It was textbook and refreshing to watch. Andre Miller’s line: 28 pts, 12 asts, 4 tos, on 13-21 shooting.
- A.I. did his thing – but it was quiet greatness. Sure he scored 32 points, had 8 dimes, only 2 turns and shot 54% from the floor. But it wasn’t explosive, more like business as usual for the Answer. He had one HUGE shot late in the 4th quarter when Denver was down 3; he nailed a much-contested three-pointer to even the score. But that is where his heroics ended. The most interesting thing I noticed about A.I was his competitiveness; he didn’t want to be shown up even once. Every time a Sixers player would score or shake him, Iverson would come down court and go right at him. Tonight he scored on nearly every possession after someone scored on him. A little something I like to call “Right Back!”
- In such an offensively dominated game (the Sixers had 9 uncontested dunks in the first half), the 76ers won on the defensive end. And almost lost it at the free throw line shooting a disgraceful 54.5%. You could see Mo Cheeks mimicking the foul shot motion in the 4th quarter when his guys were at the line, like he was trying to will it in for them. Through three quarters the 76ers on average allowed 31 points per quarter. Coach Cheeks got his team to slow the game down and as Mark Zumoff would say “Lock all windows and doors” only giving up 20 points in the final quarter. The stellar defense reached his peak with the score tied at 110-110. Sammy D. came through again with two huge blocks on Carmelo Anthony.
- The final game note is about the fans. The entire game the Philly fans were 100% supportive every time A.I. touched the ball, scored or made a great play. They cheered loud and often. That is until with about 10-minutes left in the fourth quarter when the game got a little closer and it was clearly “winning time” for the home team. At that point every time Iverson got the ball or scored you could hear boo’s, mixed in with significantly less cheering from the crowd. This should answer the question of whether the majority of the spectators were Sixers fans who loved A.I. or strictly Iverson fans living in Philly.
At the end of the night, it was just another Sixers victory. But this one puts the team at .500 since the 4th game of the season when we were 2-2.
I caught myself watching the league-wide scoreboard during the game to see keep an eye on what Washington was doing. Sadly, the Wizards won another game we all were hoping they would and should lose. Still only a half game back I am confident the Sixers will get it done. Move into the 6th seed by season’s end and set up the perfect match-up in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.