Despite Allen Iverson's 54 points Wednesday night, I still believe that one for all can't consistently beat all for one. Larry Brown knows that putting down Iverson for 50-plus points, or even 40, every night is not going to work. Much more so than the regular season, the playoffs require a team approach.
It's easy to praise 54 points, and I am not downplaying the achievement. It's just that it was Game 2 in the conference semifinals and it was a must-win at home. And the victory required this heroic effort, which included 19 of Iverson's 54 in the fourth quarter. How many of these monster games can the 76ers count on? Wouldn't it be easier to spread the shots around?
|Watching Allen Iverson was a real joy for Wideman last year.|
Iverson took 39 shots. The next-most attempts were 10 by Tyrone Hill and nine by Eric Snow. It was a recipe for success Wednesday night but, as Larry Brown told me, it doesn't always sit well with the other Sixers. Dikembe Mutombo took five shots, so the Sixers really didn't even have an inside-outside game. One guy who definitely needs to shoot more is Jumaine Jones, who was 4-for-4 with nine points.
The Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan, for all their greatness, found themselves needing John Paxson one year and Steve Kerr another. Who on that Sixers team right now would be feeling good about taking a 15-footer at the buzzer, other than Iverson?
I think it's fairly amazing that such a one-dimensional team has done so well this year. But the East was down and the Miami Heat really never had it together for very long this year. And when they did they beat the Sixers. Now, I picked the Sixers to make the finals, but I actually think the Raptors have their number.
Back in January, Iverson lit Toronto for 51 points in Philly but the Sixers lost. And if the Sixers had lost Wednesday, they would definitely have lost the series.
Clearly, the 76ers have needed some luck, and really big comebacks, to beat the Raptors. They did it Wednesday night, but again, how many times will it happen?
On the other bench, the situation screams for a double-team. But Lenny Wilkens won't do that and I guess it's hard to second-guess a Hall of Fame coach and player.
Next year, the new rule changes will allow teams to run a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two against Iverson.
But Allen Iverson is a phenomenon, a rarity and an exception. You need to do whatever it takes to make sure that guy doesn't beat you. Go against your own philosophy and double the guy. Let Tyrone Hill or Eric Snow beat you, if they can.
Next year, the new rule changes will allow teams to run a box-and-one or a triangle-and-two against Iverson. And the new rules may make Wilkens more willing to double up on Iverson. He may not, but you can bet a lot of other coaches will.
Then again, Wilkens was the coach when the Cleveland Cavaliers had Craig Ehlo guarding Michael Jordan one-on-one at the foul line with time running out in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs' first round. Bang. The jump shot goes in and the Cavs go home. Somebody should show Lenny that tape and ask him if he really wants to go through that again.