The Sixers and Flyers are both coming home hoping to rebound from disappointing road trips early in the playoffs. The Sixers return for game three tonight down 0-2 to the Heat. The Flyers return home tied at 2-2 in their series with the Sabres. Let’s hope the home court and home ice will result in wins for both.
The Sixers came out firing in game 1 in Miami on Saturday, ending the 1st quarter ahead 31-19 and building an early 14 point lead in the second. The Heat eventually pulled back and returned the favor going up by 14 before the Sixers fought back in the 4th. The Sixers finally gave way to the Heat in a 97-89 loss. Game two was a bit of a different story. The closest the Sixers got to the Heat was at tipoff when the game was tied at 0-0. The Heat looked like an awaken storm, and rolled over the Sixers 94-73.
The only beam of light left for the Sixers in this series is that they are a much better team at home, going 26-15 on the season, the exact opposite of their road record. The other good sign is that they can play with the Heat; they proved that in game one. Doug Collins has to figure out how to get that confidence back and hopefully the Sixers can find away to win these next two at home.
The one thing that doesn’t help in the series is the refs. I don’t want to complain about officiating, but when it’s blatantly obvious that there’s a large discrepancy in fouls for one team as opposed to the other it has to be addressed. In game one the Sixers actually shot a better free throw percentage then the Heat, 80% to 79.5%. The difference is the Sixers only attempted 15 free throws to the Heat’s 39; that’s a 24 shot difference in favor of the Heat. Game two was a little more even with the Sixers attempting 20 free throws to the Heat’s 29; again though still a bit of a difference between the two. For the series the Heat have shot 68 free throws to the Sixers 35, a 33 shot discrepancy. If the Sixers are going to get back into this series, they could use a little more help from the little guys in Stripes on the court.
The Flyers went to
tied at 1-1, before taking game 3, 4-2 on Monday. They entered last night’s game 4 with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead and the opportunity to take the series at home on Friday. Instead they met the human brick wall of Ryan Miller and have to win what is now a three game series. Buffalo
Everyone knew this was going to be a hard fought series. The Sabres always play the Flyers well and seem to be a pesky team that just won’t go away. Ryan Miller saved 32 shots last night and looked amazing. At one point he had a close one on one with Danny Briere with just under 9 to go in the third period and he stuffed him. When Miller is in his zone he is one of the best goal tenders in hockey, but he can be scored on. In the two Flyers wins they have scored 5 and 4 goals, in their two losses, 0 and 0. This easily could have been a four game sweep for the Flyers, but now because of great goal tending, it’s a three game race.
I could complain about the officiating last night, the refs must not have HD, or must have been watching a different game and that is all I will say about it. Okay, maybe not…in hockey penalties are going to happen and when refs don’t officiate properly fights and scrums are going to break out more often. The refs must like Mike Weber because apparently he can punch Dan Carcillo square on the chin in front of a ref and not have to go to the penalty box. That ref should be embarrassed and I hope we don’t see that crew again anytime soon. The end result of a tough series and even rougher game was a few scrums on the ice following the game. Although this made for great entertainment, I would rather the refs not have an impact on the outcome of a game.
There are a couple of issues for the Flyers going forward; they may be down two centers for game 5 on Friday. Jeff Carter left the game after banging knees with a Sabres player. He did not return and is listed as day to day with a lower body injury. Mike Richards may be suspended for game five after being called for elbowing at the end of the second period resulting in a five minute major. Richards was defending himself against Patrick Kaleta, a known dirty player, when it seemed as though he accidentally elbowed him. Accident or not the refs put him in the box for five minutes to start the third period, a penalty that the Flyers killed and seemed to snatch momentum that they just couldn’t capitalize on. Down two centers and two leaders game five could be a struggle at home.
Both the Sixers and the Flyers have a lot of fight left in them. The Flyers may have a little more then the Sixers though and they should pull out the series, I will stick by my prediction of Flyers in 6. The Sixers have a bigger issue in dealing with a team that just over matches them. Coming home is the best opportunity for the Sixers to make this a series, let’s hope they regain that game one swagger.