And Theyre Off: Flyers Idle for Five Days, Then What Happens?

And Theyre Off: Flyers Idle for Five Days, Then What Happens?

As of Tuesday, only the Pittsburgh Penguins had as many
games played as the Flyers in 2013, a category the Orange & Black have been
leading the NHL in since the regular season began back in January. But by the
time Philly’s run of five days off is over on Sunday, the rest of the Eastern
Conference will have caught up to them, and their view in the standings will
only be bleaker still.

At one time there might have been a debate over whether being
idle for so long would do more harm than good to the team’s cause. Sure, the
Flyers were going to be well-rested heading into the stretch, their fresh legs
potentially giving them an advantage over weary opponents as they jockeyed for
playoff positioning. However, it can be tough to maintain concentration and return
in mid-season form following such a lengthy break.

Rest assured there is no argument anymore. The Flyers cannot
help themselves by sitting at home, least of all under this compressed 48-game
schedule. Every team is going to have a chance to increase their lead or gain
ground on the Flyers, and since it’s all inter-conference play this season,
that means not a single point will be lost out west.

Philadelphia is at 27 points, which currently puts them five
out from a playoff spot. By the time they return to action though, they’ll
likely fall between a bare minimum of seven-to-nine back of the eighth seed
with only 18 tilts remaining.

To make matters worse, it will be right back into the frying
pan when the Flyers return. When they resume play on Sunday, five games in
eight days await them, including clashes with the Penguins, New York Rangers,
and Boston Bruins – the trio of rivals that just beat up on the Bullies in
succession two weeks ago.

Oh yeah, and even if they manage to top the Pens and Bruins,
with 44 and 41 points respectively they probably can’t realistically catch up
to either one of them anyway. The two points are still beneficial, but won’t necessarily
help the Flyers move up in the standings unless the other clubs vying for lower
seeds lose as well.

While the deficit is not technically insurmountable, the
Flyers’ path to the postseason has become extraordinarily difficult to see.
Unless they hit the ice on Sunday like they’ve been fired out of a cannon and
get on a big points streak, their season is effectively finished – if for all intents and purposes it hasn't ended already.

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Carson Wentz talks Derek Barnett, that Cowboys hat and crazy Eagles fans

Carson Wentz talks Derek Barnett, that Cowboys hat and crazy Eagles fans

Carson Wentz has had a whilrwind few days in Philadelphia as the city hosts the 2017 NFL draft.

He took some time between posing for selfies with Eagles fans and messing with Dallas Cowboys fans and hitting trick shots on live TV to talk about his busy week with CSNPhilly's Danny Pommells.

Obviously that pesky Cowboys' fan was a topic of interest.

"He was coming up and was getting booed. I was like, 'I can't take this picture.' So I nicely took his hat off and set it down and took the picture. He was cool with it. It was all in fun," Wentz said.

Carson also spoke about the record-setting Philly crowd and impressive atmosphere on Day 1 of the draft

"It was crazy. I didn't know what to expect being at the Draft Experience. The fans just kind of all circulated, it was nuts. That's Eagles fans. So much passion."

As for the Birds' first round pick Derek Barnett? Wentz had to look him up just like many Eagles fans.

"I watched some film of him. He's a dynamic player. He can really turn that corner and bend around that corner. I'm happy he's on our team I'll tell you that."

"I've heard he's a hard-working kid so that will serve him well," Wentz said.

The NFL Draft Experience continues on Friday and Saturday and is free for all fans.

Sixers 2016-17 Player Evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Sixers 2016-17 Player Evaluation: Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes

Position: Center

Status for 2017-18: Under contract for $1,471,382

Holmes in 2016-17
This year very well could have been a lost season for Richaun Holmes. The 23-year-old center was fourth on the Sixers' depth chart to begin the season, sitting behind top-10 picks Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel. Cracking the lineup, even with Embiid not playing back-to-backs and Noel hurt to start the year, was a daunting task.

Early in the season, Holmes provided solid minutes when he received them, reeling in 12 rebounds in a win vs. the Pacers on Nov. 11 and picking up 11 points and eight boards against the Nuggets on Dec. 5. However, Holmes was sent to the D-League soon after and with centers excelling ahead of him, it seemed his time in Philly may be numbered.

But then Embiid got hurt. This opened the door for consistent playing time for the former second-round pick and he shined. He averaged 7.1 points and 4.8 rebounds in 17.9 minutes during February, then shot up to 14.1 points and 6.8 rebounds over 26.4 minutes in March after Noel was traded. He put up 14 games with double-figure scoring despite eclipsing 30 minutes only four times. 

In all, Holmes proved himself to be a force off the bench for the Sixers, as well as when he got into the starting lineup. In 57 games, he started 17 and averaged 9.8 points and 5.5 rebounds, both increases from his rookie season. He upped his field goal percentage to 55.8 percent and became a viable three-point threat, shooting 35.1 percent, up from 18.2 percent as a rookie. Holmes finished the year with five straight games in double figures as he was one of the only healthy players left on the roster.

Signature game
Soon after returning from the D-League in January, he put up 18 points on 8 for 11 shooting against the Clippers in a win. He also had a double-double against the Wizards in late February after the trade deadline.

However, his signature game is one of two. He had 24 points, 14 rebounds and five assists against the Magic on March 20, giving a tremendous effort over 42 minutes. Nine days later, he had 25 points — a career-high — while facing off against Dwight Howard and the Atlanta Hawks, earning the praise of the veteran center (see below).

Looking ahead to 2017-18
It may have seemed unlikely in early January, but Holmes is likely a rotation piece for the Sixers next season. Noel is gone, Okafor may follow soon and Embiid may have trouble with back-to-backs again next season, although president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo has indicated otherwise. That opens the door for a lot of playing time, including more starts, for the Bowling Green product. 

The Sixers may bring in veteran help at center if Okafor is dealt, but it likely won't deter the 6-foot-10 forward in securing a role for next season. He proved too valuable at the end of the season. The energy Holmes provides is a necessary element to a second-unit and something the Sixers will gladly take next season.

On Holmes
"He's a kid that I remember the first time he stepped on the court with me, he was just like excited. He kept saying, 'Wow, I'm on the floor with Dwight Howard.' He just kept saying he was excited. Just to see his growth from that moment, he plays with such passion, it's great to see especially from a young guy like him. I'm proud of him."
- Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard

"He just sat there and accepted whatever we gave him: go to the D-League, sit there and clap, start, play behind Joel — whatever it was, he accepted. And he did it where it didn't diminish his work ethic, it didn't diminish his ability to coexist within a team. He found ways to improve individually, and he did it with a great level of maturity."
- Sixers head coach Brett Brown