2011 NLDS Game 5: Roy Halladay with the Season On the Line

2011 NLDS Game 5: Roy Halladay with the Season On the Line

It's going to be wild.

Charlie and the players like to downplay it as just another game. They're right, in a way, that it's just one more baseball game. It counts the same as all the other games in this series. But the result of tonight's game, unlike any of the previous 166 games, could put an end to our baseball team's season.

There are two clear and distinct outcomes. Lose and experience incredible, massive disappointment. Win and Citizens Bank Park and the city of Philadelphia will explode with joy.

And perhaps relief. Relief that the dream lives on. There's no doubt that expectations for this 2011 Phillies squad have been through the roof. That's why the Daily News' Paul Hagen says this might be "the single most important game the Phils have played" since they were created way back in 1883.

Yeah, tonight's Game 5 of the NLDS is going to be intense.

To add to the drama you have two former Cy Young winners who just so happen to be great friends going up against each other in a deciding game. Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter are going to have some awkward conversations on their next fishing trip, that's for sure.

As Phillies scribe John Finger points out, this is only the third time in the history of the game that two former Cy Young winners have gone up against each other in a decisive game of a playoff series.

Much of the reactionary portion of the Phillies fanbase was a mess after Wednesday night's loss in St. Louis. Ryan Howard took the brunt of that anger, but what so many forget is what those inside the game repeat over and over: baseball is a failure sport. Yes, Ryan Howard did not deliver in Game 4, but the series and the season are not over yet. As Ben Francisco showed in Game 3, redemption is always just a swing of the bat away.

When asked about the Cardinals potent offense yesterday afternoon, Roy Halladay put things in perspective, reminding us all that this is a Phillies team that can win when they have to.

"I think it's important for us to realize what we have on our side, too," Halladay said. "You know, we feel like we have a team that can go out and win games when we need to win games, and I think that's important for us to keep in mind."

Now they just have go go out and do it.

We all know the story lines by now. The Phillies could really use some life from Placido Polanco or some power from Hunter Pence. It'd be nice if someone reminded Choochtober what month it is. Just for kicks, I'm calling Hunter Pence as the Game 5 offensive hero. I feel like he's the one that is bound to bust out.

Most importantly, they need a shutdown outing from Roy Halladay.

I've made the drive down to the sports complex to watch the Phillies play well over 50 times this season. I'll be making it again tonight and I don't want to have to wait another five and a half months to make it again. I'm attending tonight's game with my dad. The last time I went to a Phillies playoff game with him, Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter.

Tonight is one baseball game at Citizens Bank Park to see if the dream lives on.

And the ace of the aces is on the mound for the Phillies.

Roy Halladay.

"That's the reason he was brought up here," said Young James Calvin Rollins, "to come out and be The Man -- be Doc and perform a little surgery."

It's going to be wild.

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

Embiid and Okafor want to play together, but not just yet, says Brown

CAMDEN, N.J. — If all goes as planned, a time will come when the Sixers can roll out a dominating frontcourt duo with Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor sharing the court in lengthy stretches.

That moment has to wait, though, as both Embiid and Okafor are on minute restrictions. As he returns from a knee injury, Okafor currently is coming off the bench and backing up Embiid.

“This conversation with Jahlil and Joel is more intelligent and applicable at a later date,” Brett Brown said at practice Friday. “When Jahlil’s minutes start going up and Joel can, then it’s a real conversation. I do think you may see them sooner than even I thought together. But as far as making it a real constant part of a strategy or rotation, it’s beyond too early days.”

In an ideal world, Brown could pair the two bigs now and use all of their allotted minutes (Embiid 20, Okafor 14) at once. That would leave an extensive workload on second-year bench player Richaun Holmes.

“This is a hot topic,” Brown said. “I will say it one more time: If I play Jahlil and Jo together, I hope Richaun can play 35 minutes.”

It’s an unrealistic expectation for Holmes, who averaged 13.8 minutes in 51 games last season. Brown caps the majority of the Sixers at six-minute segments to keep them competing at a high energy level.

“Right now, he’s a backup,” Brown said of Holmes. “I think he’s going to be an NBA player for a very long time. I just feel like in the role, he’s a second-year player that didn’t really have much of a role last year. He’s shown everybody that he’s for real. He really can play a role. At this early stage, that is the key word.”

Embiid and Okafor have been envisioning competing together since Okafor was drafted two years ago. They became friends long before they were NBA players and have an easy chemistry on the court as a result.

“I think it’s going to be exciting,” Embiid said. “We played a little bit together today in practice. We’re figuring out how to play with each other. It’s a process and we’ve got trust it.”

Yes, the players know they have to wait, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to resist an opportunity to play with one another.  

“I think once we figure it out, we can really dominate together,” Okafor said. “We were able to flirt with it again today. We accidentally keep ending up on the same team even though Coach keeps telling us to make sure we alternate. But we’re having fun. We’re trying to put some pressure on it because we want to play together.”

Is that accidentally with air quotes?

“Yeah, exactly,” Okafor said with a laugh.

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

'Trust the process' has a different, more personal meaning to Joel Embiid

CAMDEN, N.J. — Joel Embiid is all about trusting the process.

He manages to insert the well-known phrase into just about every interview, hashtags it on social media and soaks in the chants during games. 

While “trust the process” is commonly associated with former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie’s patience-required approach to building the team — which resulted in three years of dismal losing and suffering setback after setback — Embiid has his personal take on the mantra.

“I think I have my own process,” Embiid said Friday at practice.

Embiid is playing for the first time this season after waiting two years to recover from foot injuries. His long-anticipated debut was a focal point of “the process,” and his return to the court marked a new chapter in the organization.

“I went through two surgeries, lost my brother, thought about some stuff I shouldn’t have thought about, so that’s my own process,” he said. “And then the process of going through the rehab and finally getting back on the court and getting the chance to finally play in the league, that’s my process.”

Embiid is now synonymous with the word. He credits Sixers fans for the moniker, which he added to his Instagram profile. 

“I don’t think it came from me,” he said. “Fans just started and then I just went along with it.”

Wednesday marked the next step in the process, both for the Sixers and Embiid. His regular-season debut (20 points, seven rebounds, two blocks) was a long time coming and garnered buzz all over the NBA world.

“I was the third pick and then I missed two years,” Embiid said. “The excitement in the city, everybody’s happy to finally see me play. Even though it was weird because a lot of people kind of wrote me off a long time ago saying that I’d never play as a Sixer, I’d never play in the league. So it’s all fun. Everybody’s going to have an opinion.”

He’s just got to trust in his own.