Work in Sports
Do or die
Sixers focused on winning Game 6
Posted: Thursday May 18, 2000 09:50 PM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Before they think about a historic comeback, the Philadelphia 76ers must win another game.
With Reggie Miller returning to a seemingly more-focused Pacers team, the Sixers can't overlook Friday's Game 6 against Indiana or there won't be a Game 7.
"If we don't concentrate on the game, there's no way we're going to make history," Sixers guard Allen Iverson said. "We got to win the first game. We have to win the next one. That's the most important thing. Then we'll deal with the game in Indiana when the time comes."
Philadelphia, which nearly was swept out of the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight season by the Pacers, can even the series with a victory Friday at the First Union Center.
Game 7, if necessary, is Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse. No NBA team has ever rallied to win a best-of-seven series after falling behind 3-0. Only six of the 59 teams in that position even forced a sixth game.
"It would be great to make history here, but we got to do it one game at a time," said Aaron McKie, who again will start at point guard in place of the injured Eric Snow.
Snow, out since Game 3 with a chip fracture in his right ankle, could see limited action.
The Sixers survived a furious, fourth-quarter rally and a missed 3-pointer at the buzzer by Travis Best to win Game 4 92-90. Miller was ejected late in the third quarter of that game after a fight with Matt Geiger.
Both players were suspended for Philadelphia's 107-86 victory in Game 5 Monday. Miller returns to the lineup Friday while Geiger must sit out another game.
"It's do-or-die for us," Sixers forward Theo Ratliff said. "We have to approach it with the same intensity. Reggie changes things for them."
Toni Kukoc, who has contributed more after struggling in the three losses, said Miller's return doesn't guarantee an Indiana victory.
"Reggie is going to bring firepower and we just have to guard him as best we can," Kukoc said. "But we had an 18-point lead (in Game 4) with Reggie out there. You never know how it's going to be."
Kukoc faced elimination games as a member of the Chicago Bulls, where he won three championships. He said the Sixers can't assume a win-or-go-home mentality.
"You can't approach this game like desperation or it'll put chains on you," he said. "From our standpoint, it's been a seventh game two games in row. You have to approach every game the same way. You can't approach this game like elimination or that will put extra pressure on the players."
Indiana, once concerned about a long layoff between series, now wants to just get to that next round. The Pacers are worried about Iverson, who scored 37 points in Game 5, including seven of the first nine as the Sixers built a 15-0 lead.
"We can't let one guy change everything we try to do on the defensive end, but yeah, there are some things to do," Indiana coach Larry Bird said. "We won't double-team him out on the court. We can put Reggie on him a little bit earlier, bring Travis in a little bit earlier. Once he gets it going, he's just tough to stop."
Iverson, the NBA's second-leading scorer during the regular season, at 28.4 points a game, is averaging 28.2 this series. But he has struggled at times on the defensive end, having to guard Best, who is quicker, and Mark Jackson, who is bigger.
"I keep impressing upon him that people judge you by how your team plays," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "Unfortunately he has to expend energy (playing defense)."