I stand by those comments. But the Sixers? I didn't think Orlando had that kind of choke job up its sleeve in Game 1 of a harmless first-round series against a team with an interim coach, interim point guard, interim power forward, and very interim playoff hopes.
The Sixers? Blowing an 18-point lead against the Sixers? Wow.
Maybe Shaq was right. Maybe Stan Van Gundy is the master of panic. He was sweating and hyperventilating so much Sunday night -- at least every time they showed him on TV -- that it's hard to imagine his team drawing any confidence from that.
The Sixers? What do they care? Nobody expected them to do anything in this series -- least of all me, who predicted Orlando would be the only team to sweep in the first round. So much for that. I was right about one thing, though. Andre Iguodala is going to be a problem for Orlando.
I gagged when Iguodala missed those two free throws down the stretch, but when he crossed over and stepped back on Hedo Turkoglu for the game-winning 22-footer, it looked like a move that was perfected years ago in Philadelphia by another guy with the initials A.I. Interesting choice by Van Gundy to go with Turkoglu -- on a bum ankle -- against Iguodala, the Sixers' only scoring threat with enough game-changing ability to worry the Magic. His size and length makes sense, but I wonder if the combination of the ankle and chasing Iguodala contributed to Turkoglu's 2-for-8, six-point performance on the offensive end.
There's nothing to panic about for the Magic. The trend in this year's playoffs seems to be heavy underdogs winning Game 1 on the road. The Sixers have pulled off Game 1 stunners before, only to lose the series. (See their 90-86 victory at Detroit in Game 1 last year, which ultimately resulted in a 4-2 series loss.)
The real test of a playoff team is how it responds after taking one on the chin. The Magic could respond like Mighty Mouse or Minnie Mouse. Based on their body of work to this point in the season, those scenarios are equally likely.