Apollo Creed wins again.
True, Creed is a fictional character just like his heroic counterpart, Rocky Balboa. But just as Rocky represents hope, determination and belief, Creed represents talent, flash, stardom, and success.
It was 10 years ago that The LA Lakers played the role of Creed in the NBA Finals against the undersized Sixers, led by David-like Allen Iverson.
Wednesday night, it was the Miami Heat who became Creed against a gritty Sixers team who gave their all, even until the last 10 seconds of a Eastern Conference first round playoff series — one in which they were clearly overmatched.
The Sixers fell in Game 5 to the heat 97-91 in heartbreaking fashion, and lose the series 4 games to 1.
The Sixers were down by only 1 with under a minute to go. With 16.8 seconds they were still within 3. But, a missed jumper (with what could have been Andre Iguodala’s last shot as a Sixer) was the beginning of the end as the Heat had nothing to do but close the game out.
Though, Iguodala came to play in a huge way. He was astonishing good in comparison to his woeful play throughout the first four games of the series. Iggy dropped 22 big points while grabbing 10 rebounds. He and Thaddeus Young carried the Sixers in the 4th quarter when the they needed it most. Young finished with 13 points.
Elton Brand finished his resurgent season on a high note. He dropped in 22 points as well.
The problem? Despite the Sixers best effort, the Heat counter punch of the big three in Wade, Bosh, and James, was just enough to pull them through. Each of the three headed monster had double doubles in the Series clincher.
Once again, the Sixers played with intensity throughout the whole game, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Conversely, the Heat coasted, as usual, throughout the game, until they seemingly “cared enough” to make runs to assure themselves of victory.
The Sixers started the game on a 16-5 run. The Heat ended the first quarter on a 22-7 run. The Sixers retook the lead in the third quarter after an Erik Spolestra technical foul. The Heat followed that up with a 7-0 run.
Mario Chalmers lifted the Heat in the first half with his deadly daggers from downtown and ended the game with 20 points.
Though, despite all of the Heat’s fire power the Sixers could look to their free throw shooting as a nail in their own season-ending coffin. They made 11 out of 17, which is only 65%. In the end, their six missed free throws was the difference in the game.
But, like Rocky, the Sixers battled to the bitter end, and undoubtedly earned the respect of the Miami Heat, well maybe, not Lebron James who viewed the Sixers as his bowl of Wheaties.
Doug Collins and his team did what he said out to do — make the Sixers relevant again. Unfortunately though, moral victories don’t win rings.
Once again, in Philadelphia basketball history, it’s Apollo Creed who gets the belt.