Shaking things up
Sixers to start McKie in place of Snow in Game 4
"We're kind of down, but this is not the time to be down," McKie said Saturday. "This is when we've got to rally and everyone has to step in and play a part. I think we got a lot of things straightened out this morning, and hopefully we can bring that to the floor."
Philadelphia trails Toronto 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 set for Sunday afternoon.
The Raptors defeated Philadelphia 102-78 Friday night behind 50 points from Vince Carter, and the Sixers kept their locker room closed for almost 30 minutes afterward for a players-only meeting.
"They did seem real down," Toronto center Antonio Davis said. "Even when they won in Game 2, they seemed to be bickering with each other over some of the plays that were being called. To me, that's a sign of weakness. If they're not together now, when are they going to come together?"
That's the same question Philadelphia coach Larry Brown was asking himself after the Raptors ran roughshod over his team in every facet of the game.
Davis had 20 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, while Philadelphia center Dikembe Mutombo shot just 1-for-3 with nine rebounds, four turnovers and three blocks. Chris Childs won the point guard matchup, outscoring Snow 16-10 with 10 assists to Snow's four.
As a whole, the Raptors outhustled the Sixers throughout the 48 minutes.
"If it takes me diving into the stands tomorrow, whatever it takes to get us that win, I'm going to do it," Philadelphia forward Tyrone Hill said. "But at the same time, it has to be a whole. Not just the role players, but the so-called All-Stars, the 12th men, the bench, the manager, whoever. Everybody's got to play their role."
Carter and Allen Iverson are both averaging 37.7 points in the series, but Carter is shooting 52 percent from the field and Iverson is shooting 41 percent. Carter, who made his first eight 3-pointers in Game 3, has made 14 of Toronto's 28 3-pointers in the series. The Sixers, as a team, have made only 10.
McKie, who won the NBA's Sixth Man award, has been the Sixers' only secondary offensive threat, averaging 11.7 points but shooting just 36 percent from the field. Snow, slowed by a right ankle injury that forced him to miss 25 games earlier this season, has shot 10-for-29 from the field in this series.
Philadelphia went 18-7 with McKie replacing Snow as a starter during the regular season.
"Well, they put another offensive player on the floor, but who's going to handle the ball?" Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens said upon hearing of the planned change to the Sixers' starting lineup.
Although George Lynch has the defensive assignment on Carter at the start of each game, McKie has taken over that role to an increasing degree throughout the series. As a starter, though, he will likely begin the game defending Childs and putting pressure on the ball as the Raptors bring it upcourt.
Brown discussed his lineup changes while also heaping praise on Carter and the Raptors, who have gotten far greater contributions from their role players than Philadelphia has.
Mutombo, Hill, Lynch, Snow have all underperformed in this series, while Matt Geiger has been a complete non-factor after contributing one minor, memorable moment to the series -- a ludicrously off-target 10-foot bank shot in Game 1.
Carter has grown comfortable with the postseason spotlight after struggling though the first three games of the Raptors' first-round series against New York. In the five games since teammate Charles Oakley publicly criticized Carter for not bearing his share of the load, Carter has averaged 34.4 points.
"What Charles did with Vince was not pointing a finger, but giving him the hard facts," Brown said. "Vince, to his credit, has really risen to the occasion and taken the challenge, and I think Vince is going to look back and this might be a turning point in his career."
Upon hearing Brown's thoughts, Carter paused to think.
"If so, I'll thank him every day from now on. He said it, and great things have happened since then," Carter said.
"I'll always respect Charles for the things he says, when he pulls me aside, and how he has helped me mature as a player. That means he cares about me and how well I do in my NBA career. It's criticism trying to make me better instead of trying to break me down."