April 24, 2011
Both the Sixers and the Flyers are in action today with their playoff lives on the line. The Sixers, down 3-0 in the first round, try to avoid being swept by the Heat at home at 1pm. The Flyers, down 3-2 in the Conference Quarterfinals, are in Buffalo where the puck drops at 3pm.
Having two teams in this precarious position on the same day isn’t common: this is only the second time it’s occurred. The only other time both the Sixers and Flyers needed wins on the same day to avoid playoff elimination was May 1, 1977.
The 1976-77 Sixers was one of the most talented and deep teams in franchise history. In addition to reaping the benefits of the ABA-NBA merger by adding Julius Erving, George McGinnis and Caldwell Jones, the 76ers were loaded with Henry Bibby, Steve Mix, Fred Carter, Joe Bryant, World B. Free and Darryl Dawkins. Oh yeah, there was also that Doug Collins guy. The Sixers rolled through the Eastern Conference, earning the #1 seed and the first-round playoff bye that came with it.
The Sixers faced the pre-Bird Celtics in the Conference Semifinals. Each team traded wins, forcing a Game 7 on May 1, 1977 in Philadelphia. The Sixers took the seventh game 83-77 and went on to the NBA Finals.
In the Finals, the Sixers lost 4 games to 2 to the Bill Walton led Portland Trailblazers. Game 2 of that series saw the series changing Darryl Dawkins sucker-punch followed by Maurice Lucas sucker-punch followed by Dawkins/Lucas square-up seen below:
On the same day the Sixers beat the Celtics in Game 7, the Flyers were in Boston trying to avoid being swept in the Conference Semifinals. The 1976-77 Flyers were led by Rick MacLeish, Bobby Clarke and mid-season pickup Bob Dailey. The Flyers advanced to the semis by defeating the Maple Leafs in six games. After losing their first two games at home against the Leafs and being down 2-0 in game three, the Flyers turned the series around and reeled off four straight wins.
Reaching the conference semifinals for the fifth straight year, the Flyers repeated their early first series performance by digging an 0-2 hole with home losses. However, this time there was no turnaround. When the series shifted to Boston, the Flyers lost Game Three 2-1. On May 1, 1977, Boston completed the sweep with a 3-0 shutout victory. After the game, the Bruins’ organist John Kiley poured some salt into the wounds by switching out his normal victory song for “God Bless America.” Douche.
The last time both teams faced elimination, Philly was treated with a mixed bag of results. There is no telling what will happen later today, but by the time 6 o’clock rolls around, there’s a chance that the Phillies will be getting our undivided attention.