WHAT HAPPENED: Andre Iguodala rebounded a missed free throw by Omer Asik with 7 seconds left, drove all the way downcourt and was fouled with 2.2 seconds left, making both free throws for the tying and winning points — making the Sixers only the fifth 8th-seeded team to knock off a No. 1 seed. Asik played an incredible game, never once taking a seat in the second half, but he was the wrong guy for C.J. Watson to give the ball to when the Bulls needed to dribble down the clock and keep the ball in the hands of a good foul shooter. Asik is not one of them (45 percent), and he missed both to leave the Bulls ahead by just one. Iggy took it from there (without the benefit of a timeout), and the Sixers are in the conference semifinals for the first time in nine years.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: It means we have a week team in the second round. Nobody predicted this upset, because nobody could have envisioned that Derrick Rose’s season would end in Game 1 with a torn ACL, and no one imagined that a sprained ankle would knock out Joakim Noah for the second half of the series. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau went with Taj Gibson ahead of Carlos Boozer for the final 14 minutes (he did that last year, too, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals when the Bulls were eliminated.) But make no mistake, the Sixers are not an elite team. The Bulls outrebounded them 56-33 and had a 25-2 edge in second-chance points.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN?: In the end, it was Iguodala, a 65 percent free throw shooter, who calmly and coolly knocked down the final two free throws. Iggy has taken his share of grief in Philadelphia for his high salary failing to produce much in terms of good results over the years, but he came through big with all eyes on him. He finished with a team-high 20 points with seven assists.
WHO DIDN’T?: Noah was a game-time decision, and that decision was “no.” Noah’s sprained ankle was still too tender for him to go. And as mentioned above, Boozer had a great seat for the final 14 minutes. He did grab 13 rebounds, but shot just 1-for-11 from the field.
WHAT’S NEXT: No doubt the television sets in the Philly locker room were tuned to the Boston-Atlanta game to see whether that series was extended to a seventh game, or whether Philly needs to get ready to travel to Boston for Game 1 on Saturday. Once upon a time, that was the best rivalry in basketball. From 1980-85, the teams met four times in the Eastern Conference finals. Each team won twice, once in five games and once in seven. In 1981, the Celtics rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Sixers, winning the last three games by a combined five points. The following year, the Sixers again built a 3-1 lead, lost the next two games and faced the specter of a repeat collapse with Game Seven at Boston Garden. But Philly prevailed, and the Garden crowd chanted “Beat LA!” for the Sixers, who rode 34 points from “Boston Strangler” Andrew Toney to a 120-106 win.