Michael Pina is a senior at the University of Delaware about to graduate with a BA in English concentrating in Journalism. Once he graduates in May, He’ll be living in his hometown of Boston.
Orlando Magic fans exhale. You barely survived a four-story tidal wave against the Philadelphia 76ers, that heading into you expected to be calmer waters. Whenever a heavy underdog comes into a series and unexpectedly makes every game competitive, the question must be asked, did the Magic play down or did the Sixers dig deep and show some people what they could do. As poorly as Orlando played at the end of games one and three, in this particular instance the Sixers went out and took it from them.
How could a team that barely played .500 basketball be better than everyone thinks? Their style can kindly be described as run and gun without any bullets and their front line has Reggie Evans in it. The answer to that question is also their curse and the reason for the ultimate let down at home against a Dwight Howard-less Magic. Their best offensive player is their point guard, Andre Miller.
When Elton Brand’s season all but ended in a mid-December game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the slow starting Sixers looked like their season was lost. Ironically, Philadelphia won that game by five points and the AP stories lead read, “With the exception of Andre Miller, the Philadelphia 76ers didn’t get much production from their starters.” Since that fateful contest, Miller has not only been the team’s leader and general, but their best offensive player. Better than future all-star Thaddeus Young. Better than the high-flying Andre Iguodala. The Sixers strategy to get out and run is a simple and necessary one, but interesting in the sense that the club isn’t equipped with any real three-point shooters besides Donyell Marshall, who failed to start a game all season. Without the long underappreciated Andre Miller, Philly would never come as close as they did in getting to the playoffs let alone nearly defeating the Magic. He’s the most important piece of the puzzle that is the Sixers, but unfortunately, their time together could be finished.
Miller missed the last team meeting of the season but chalked it up as a miscommunication, making the situation a little fishy considering he’s now an unrestricted free agent. The man who makes less than half as much money as Allen Iverson (the two were once traded for each other) now has the opportunity to be that missing particle on another squad. One possible destination for the best pump fake in basketball could be Portland. As a matter of fact, those two fit about as nicely Quincy Jones tutoring an artistic prodigy. The Trailblazers only flaw right now is their point guard, and they were the youngest team in this years post-season. They really could have used a calming floor general that knows when to defer, when to hold up, when to run, and when to briefly take over. Miller sets the tempo like a metronome. He did it in Philadelphia and he’d do it in Portland.
In the past nine seasons, you won’t find a more complete point guard who never really played for a contender. Throughout his career Miller has been remarkably consistent, coming into the league as a 23-year-old man, he’s never laced them up for less than 80 games in each season. If Miller doesn’t end up in Portland, nearly half the teams in the league looking to get to the next level should think about inking Andre Miller. For the short term, they won’t be sorry.