SI.com 2003 NBA Finals 2003 NBA Finals


Sixers await next opponent

Posted: Saturday May 03, 2003 6:21 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Instead of preparing for a decisive Game 7, the Philadelphia 76ers enjoyed a Saturday off.

The Sixers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 107-103 victory over the Hornets in New Orleans on Friday night. They'll play the winner of Sunday's Game 7 between Orlando and Detroit.

If the Magic win, the Sixers will open their second-round series at home. If the Pistons win, they'll open in Detroit.

Philadelphia coach Larry Brown is just happy that his team wrapped up the first-round series when it did.

"I'm thrilled we've got some time off, which we really need," Brown said.

Allen Iverson made sure the Sixers didn't have to play the Hornets again, scoring 15 of his 45 points in the fourth quarter, including an incredible 15-foot bank shot that gave Philadelphia a four-point lead in the final seconds.

But Iverson didn't do it alone.

Keith Van Horn had 18 points and 18 rebounds, including a key offensive rebound in the final minute. Criticized by Brown for his reluctance to take shots late in games and his inability to get rebounds in Game 5 -- he had four -- Van Horn came through with his finest all-around performance of the season.

"He was phenomenal," Brown said. "He really stepped up."

The Sixers will return to practice Sunday morning still uncertain of their next opponent. The Magic and Pistons play in the afternoon.

Even though playing the Magic would mean getting home-court advantage, the Sixers might not be rooting for Orlando. Philadelphia hasn't had much success against Tracy McGrady and the Magic in recent years.

Before beating Orlando 99-98 on Feb. 14 at home, the Sixers had lost nine of 10 against the Magic, including the first two games this season. The Sixers then won 118-113 in Orlando on March 31.

Orlando leads the all-time series 37-19, but the Sixers beat the Magic in their only postseason meeting in 1998, winning a first-round series 3-1.

The Pistons and Sixers split their four meetings this season, each winning once at home and on the road. But the Sixers' 91-74 victory in Philadelphia last month came when Pistons All-Star forward Ben Wallace was out with a knee injury.

Philadelphia leads that series 121-84. The teams have never met in the playoffs.


 
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