A Story About Control: Game Three of Sixers-Celtics at WFC

A Story About Control: Game Three of Sixers-Celtics at WFC

It's a little amazing that even after dropping Game One -- a game that by all accounts, the Sixers could and (more arguably) should have won -- we were still able to leave Boston with a series split. The Sixers now have the chance to take control of the series with their two games at the WFC -- where they remain, incredibly, one of only three remaining teams (and the only one in the East) in the playoffs to be undefeated at home. It should be a difficult task, but not an impossible one, as the Sixers won their two games against Boston in Philly with minimal resistance, though both were against a tired, reeling Boston team were likely a lot less fired up than they should be tonight and on Friday.

What's it gonna take? Well, your guess is good as mine, really, since nothing about the first two games of this series have made all that much sense to me, but let's key on two positive trends from Games One and Two that we'd like to see continue in the City of Brotherly Love. First, that Paul Pierce remains thoroughly in check -- a combination of injuries and beastly Andre Iguodala defense have held The Truth to a combined 21 points on 25% shooting thusfar, a key weapon neutralized for the Celtics. Second, that Lavoy Allen continues to get in and get his, averaging 11 points and seven rebounds a game off the bench in this series and being the Sixers' most consistent post scrapper. (Lavoy has a 20.6 PER for the playoffs entire, by the way, by far the team's highest efficiency rating.)

As far as the smaller number of minutes Elton Brand and Thad Young have seen over the past couple games of the series, Doug Collins stressed he's going to put the guys who give his team the best chance to win on that given night on the floor. Elton and Thad have been banged up while Lavoy and co. have really stepped up.

"EB is a great teammate and so is Thad," Coach Collins said before tonight's game. "EB's has had a little bit of problems with that shoulder. Thad had a little bit of a sore ankle. I think anybody who would ever think I'm not going to play the guys that give us the best guys on a particular night doesn't know me very well. Or if anybody would have thought I don't play younger players… the end of game the other day we had Lavoy Allen on the floor guarding Kevin Garnett."

Time for Lavoy to man up once again, this time in front of his faithful Philly fans.

7:00 tip from Philly. It might've taken a round to do it, but hopefully the city is convinced that the team is really worth supporting this time, and will come out in droves for our first home game of the second round. Strength in numbers, we can get it right, one time. Go Sixers.

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One other quote worth noting from the pre game. Coach Collins was asked a question about his commentator days:

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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