PJ Tucker’s first year in Philadelphia has been a roller coaster. The city was on Tucker for the majority of the season for his lack of scoring and lackadaisical play during the regular season. PJ Tucker advocates always had the same argument, “just wait till the playoffs.”
The advocates are right; the Sixers 38 year old Forward has been everything as anticipated since the start of the playoffs. Tucker is the force the team has been missing in recent years. Whether it be the dirty work like diving for loose balls, getting tough offensive rebounds, or his veteran leadership, Tucker is the kind of player winning teams have on their side. After all, there is a reason he has been around this long.
Although Tucker is still not putting up stellar offensive numbers, he is hitting his open looks from the corner, and that is all you can ask.
Sunday’s Game 4 had the makings of a game that the Sixers always lose in recent years. They blew a 16-point lead, the offense was stagnant down the stretch, and Joel Embiid began to look discouraged after a couple of blocked shots by Al Horford. After getting fouled while making a tough bucket, Tucker did not celebrate; he went directly to the league MVP and gave him a talk.
Tucker was not the only reason the Sixers won the game, but he was a big part. We have watched the Sixers lose that game what seems like 100 times over the last couple of years, and it was not James Harden; it was not Doc Rivers, but it was PJ Tucker picking up his teammate when things got tough.
There is no saying if the Sixers will be able to beat the Celtics on their court again and get out of the second round, but if any Sixers team over the last couple of years is capable of doing it, it’s this one. Tucker has given this team an edge that they have missed, and we’ll see how that pans out during the rest of the series.
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