The 76ers recognize that now is the time to deliver the kill shot in their series with the Chicago Bulls.
They know that now, leading three games to one in their best-of-seven series, with the Bulls missing their best player and probably their second best as well, is the time to finish them off.
"You can't go in with the idea that we've got three games to win one," Sixers coach Doug Collins said Monday at the team's practice facility at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "That'd be bad psychology. You got to go on the idea that we want to go to Chicago and we want to finish the series."
The news for the Bulls has been bad ever since they lost Derrick Rose at the end of Game 1, the lone victory by the Eastern Conference's top-seeded team. It worsened for the Bulls in Game 3, when they lost center Joakim Noah in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle and were forced to play without him on Sunday in the 89-82 loss that pushed them to the brink of elimination.
It is unlikely he'll play in Tuesday's Game 5.
"He's a little better," Bulls coach Thibodeau said after Monday's practice. "He'll be a game-time, most likely out."
Riding their first three-game winning streak in the playoffs since 2001, the Sixers are taking a businesslike approach to Game 5. They spent the majority of Monday's practice watching footage of Sunday's win.
"We had a really good film session," forward Andre Iguodala said. "We cleared up some things we got away with. I don't think we'll be able to get away with some of those same mistakes again."
The Sixers are well aware that just five times in NBA history has the eighth seed advanced in the playoffs with a victory over the top seed. But the feeling among the players and coaches shortly before they boarded their charter flight to Chicago was that giving the Bulls any hope of beating the odds would be problematic.
"I'm expecting a fight to the last," Sixers guard Jrue Holiday said. "They are a little banged up, but they are a tough team still. We know the crowd is really going to be crazy. So we have to go in there with the mentality that it's the Sixers vs. the world. That's how we've got to take it on."
Averaging a team-high 19.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.0 turnovers, Holiday, just 21, has never been in position to close a team out in the playoffs. His only experience in the postseason came last year, when the Sixers were eliminated in the first round by the Miami Heat.
Playing smart, he said, is crucial.
"You have to go out and leave everything on the court and play your heart out," Holiday said. "But at the same time you don't want to get too emotional because it can lead to mistakes. So you have to concentrate and you have to execute."
The Sixers finished the regular season with a 16-17 road record. However, they have been on a bit of a roll lately, winning seven of their last 10 road games dating back to the regular season. One of those losses included the season finale at Detroit. In that game the Sixers were without Iguodala, Elton Brand, Lou Williams, and Thaddeus Young.
"We've been pretty good on the road lately," Holiday said. "We are focused right now on getting it done."