Not since Allen Iverson donned a Philadelphia 76ers uniform had the team advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs. Shoot, they hadn’t even made the post season in seven years before coach Doug Collins arrived last year.
Well, on the strength of a dramatic 79-78 win over, the Sixers move on to face the Boston Celtics in a rematch of one of the NBA’s storied rivalries from the 1980s.
It took a lot for the Sixers to send their sellout crowd into a frenzy. Philadelphia is the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed. Memphis eliminated San Antonio last season, while Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also accomplished the feat.
Andre Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left for the decisive points. They came after Chicago’s Omar Asik missed two foul shots with seven seconds to play and the Bulls in front by a point. Asik then fouled Iguodala, setting up winning free throws.
It was a valiant effort by the Bulls, who played without last year’s MVP Derrick Rose and the team’s second most important player, Jaokim Noah. That did not temper the Sixers mood or celebration one bit.
Iguodala and Evan Turner jumped atop the scorer’s table and embraced the adulation that came from the fans.