The Sixers are essentially beginning a best-of-three series against the Celtics. Win two and you advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
“No one thought we’d be here,” forward Elton Brand said. “But here we are still fighting. We’re going to give it everything. We’ve got to keep it going.”
Brand was referring to the final stages of the truncated 66-game lockout season, when the Sixers had to play their final games on the road. The Bucks slowly caught up with the Sixers and made things interesting down the stretch.
From there, the Sixers sizzled. They won four straight on the road. Meanwhile, the Bucks fizzled. Then the Bulls started dropping with injuries and the Sixers won in six.
Now, the team is catching the Celtics at the right time. Paul Pierce is nursing a sprained MCL in his left knee. Ray Allen has a bone spur in his ankle and doesn’t look right.
The Sixers seized a victory with a stirring, 18-point comeback in Friday’s 92-83 win in Game 4. They’re guaranteed at least one more game in Philadelphia with Game 6.
Looming beyond this series is the Eastern Conference finals against either Indiana or Miami. But that’s looking too far ahead.
“We believe in ourselves,” guard Lou Williams said. “We believe we can do it. We don’t lose faith. We keep coming and keep coming at you.”
“One at a time,” Brand said. “Cliché but so true, especially with us. We’ve been going one at a time for a while now.”