Iguodala Sends Chicago Home

Philadelphia was able to grab the rebound that truly mattered.

Just seven seconds away from returning to Chicago to play the Bulls in Game 7 of the opening round of the playoffs, Andre Igodala ended the series by himself.

The 6-foot-6 forward captured a missed free throw and raced up the floor without any timeouts and his team trailing by one.

He attacked Omer Asik, retreating towards the rim after missing two crucial free throws, and was hacked in midair to give the 76ers an opportunity to win.

Trailing by one, Iguodala had to sink both foul shots to prevent the series from returning to the United Center.

A 61.7 percent free throw shooter during the regular season, no two attempts from 15-feet away mattered more for Iguodala.

The lone representative for Philadelphia in the All-Star game this season dribbled twice, took a deep breath and swished the first attempt. Two more dribbles, another smooth release and Philadelphia secured its first lead of the fourth quarter.

The Bulls had to inbound the ball quickly as only 2.2 seconds remained on the clock and without any timeouts remaining, C.J. Watson raced ahead and launched a prayer from the half court line.

All 20,362 fans in attendance at the Well Fargo Center held their breath as Watson’s attempt hit off the back rim and flew out.

Iguodala celebrated a 79-78 win for the 76ers by leaping onto the scorers table as confetti and streamers engulfed him, signifying the demise of the top ranked Bulls.

Chicago became  just the fifth No. 1 seed in NBA history to lose in the opening round.

Philadelphia advanced despite being outrebounded 56-33 and of the 30 shots made by the Bulls, 19 were set up by an assist.

Multiple opportunities to score were negated by poor shooting from Chicago, as it converted just 37.5 percent of its attempts from the field and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.

The formula of crashing the boards and converting dunks or free throws kept the Bulls in the lead for all but 32 seconds during the fourth quarter.

Andre Iguodala finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists Thursday night.

A three-pointer from Lou Williams briefly put Philadelphia ahead 73-72 with just over four minutes remaining in the contest.

Luol Deng scored a layup the next time down court and grabbed a defensive rebound with 3:19 remaining and a one point lead for Chicago.

The Bulls bled a minute off the clock during the next possession, securing four offensive rebounds on a single trip down the court finally returning the ball back to Philadelphia with 2:02 left after Taj Gibson sank a pair of free throws.

The replacements nearly sent the series to a seventh game with 25 seconds remaining.

Watson, filling in for Derrick Rose after he tore his ACL in Game 1, recorded his 10th assist of the game after sending a beautiful bounce pass into the lane, through multiple defenders to Asik for a two handed dunk.

Asik was starting in place of Joakim Noah, out for the past three games because of a sprained ankle.

Philadelphia cut the lead to one as Thaddeus Young converted an acrobatic layup with the shot clock winding down.

Andre Iguodala sent the 76ers to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

The 76ers tried to steal the ball, as Jrue Holiday swiped at Watson multiple times, without a foul call, and he dashed towards the foul line.

Watson found Asik as he cut to the rim was fouled as he went up for a dunk. Asik has shot 48.4 pervent from the line during his two year career and missed both attempts, enabling Iguodala to win the game.

Once again, the 76ers were able to win because of nearly flawless execution on the offensive end.

Throughout the six game series, the 76ers committed just 56 turnovers with seven coming last night.

Young and Iguodala were the only Philadelphia players to shoot over 40 percent.

Iguodala led the team in points (20) and assists (7) and made 2-0f-3 attempts from long range, including a key one over Deng to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia now faces the Atlantic Division champion Celtics in the second round. Boston advanced Thursday night after defeating the Hawks 83-80 in Game 6.

Of the five teams to win a playoff series as the eighth seed, only one reached the conference championship.

Philadelphia controlled the series with solid team play, but in the series finale, Iguodala played like the superstar the 76ers desperately needed.

About Brendan Galella

Brendan Galella founded Shatter the Glass to make the NBA even more accessible to basketball fans. Composing player rankings, team evaluations and intriguing observations, he hopes to turn every reader into a dedicated and educated basketball follower.

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