Again With the Heat: Our Miniscule Chances of Going One for Four

Again With the Heat: Our Miniscule Chances of Going One for Four

Update: The Heat will be without D. Wade this evening.

You know what the most insulting part of the Heat's recent ownage of the
Sixers is? The Heat didn't even have the decency to beat the Celtics
last Sunday, getting creamed by the C's in Boston. Not only do they
insist on beating the Sixers every time the teams play, but when it
comes time for them to face one of the teams the Sixers need to drop a
couple for playoff-seeding purposes, they all of a sudden turn into a
middling squad imminently capable of losing games. Why does Miami insist
on torturing us so?

Somehow, we got matched up with this team four times this year—more
than we face off against several of our actual Atlantic Division
rivals—and tonight Miami goes for the four-game series sweep. It's hard
to tell what it is about this team that vexes Philly so that they can't
even seem to take advantage of the Heat while they're in a phone-it-in
stretch—bad matchups with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? Lack of toughness
down low against Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony? LeBron James just being
that insultingly good? It's been infuriating for years now, and it
doesn't appear to be getting any less so anytime soon.

The good news is this: Even if we are chalking up the Miami game as
an automatic L, it's the last borderline-unwinnable game the Sixers play
this year. After this, the hardest games the Sixers play in their final
13 are two matchups each against the Pacers and Magic, both of whom
Philly has proven every bit capable of beating. No more Heat, no more
Bulls, no Spurs or Thunder or anyone else whose three-letter code on the
schedule sends chills down your spine. In addition, Philly gets two
games the lowly Raptors and three against the Nets, as well as one more
each against the lottery-bound Cavs and Pistons...the Sixers could
realistically finish the season on a 9-4 or 10-3 tear. (Or they could
fall apart and end up at .500 once more, and you may never hear from me
again.)

The other good news: We're getting something dangerously close to
"consistency" from Evan Turner of late. Here's ET's last four games from
the field: 10 points on 5-11 shooting, 12 points on 6-13, 11 on 5-7, 13
on 6-13. It's not as exciting as when he was tearing off 20/10-type
games in early March, but it's almost as encouraging—after endlessly
oscillating between Good and Bad Evan Turner, we appear to have settled
in a much more sustainable middle for the time being. Throw in the good
rebounding and ball-handling (he's only turned the ball over once in the
last three, with nine combined assists), and Evan has been one of the
team's most reliable producers the last week or so. We'll need him to do
a little more if the team's gonna have a shot in the playoffs, but for
now, we'll take the stability.

7:30 tip form American Airlines Arena. Do the Sixers stand a chance
of taking this one? I wish I could come up with some new advantage the
Sixers have, but aside from the fact that the Heat have been kind of
crummy on the road recently, there's not much to portend Sixers success
tonight. Still, if Philly can get blown out by the Wizards, clearly
anything is possible, and maybe Evan and Spencer Hawes were inspired by
their WWE experience
last night or something. Just pray that the matchups don't fall as such
that we have to do this four more times after the season wraps.

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid to play Monday vs. Nuggets; Jahlil Okafor questionable (illness)

Joel Embiid will play Monday night against the Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.

The reigning Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month is still unable to play back-to-back games. He'll likely be out Tuesday night when the Sixers travel to Memphis to play the Grizzlies.

The home crowd will get see Embiid but they may not get to see him paired with fellow big man Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is questionable on Monday with an illness.

Robert Covington (left knee sprain, flu) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are also out on Monday.

More coming...

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

CINCINNATI — There’s one thing the Eagles are very consistent at, and it’s nothing to be proud of.

The Eagles continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and with 10 more infractions in their 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, they increased their 12-game total to 100 — second-most in the NFL this year.

Five times they’ve been called for 10 or more penalties, and that’s one shy of the most games in franchise history with double-digit penalties in a season.

And there’s four games to go.

The Eagles have been cited for penalties seven or more times in all but three games. They’re on pace for the third-most penalties in franchise history.

Earlier this year, the Eagles committed seven or more penalties in four straight games for the first time in six years. The last month, they did that again.

This is not a disciplined football team. Not remotely.

“The penalties are hurting us,” said Brandon Graham, who was called for a personal foul after a low hit on Andy Dalton Sunday. “You kind of get frustrated a little bit and sometimes a lot of stuff starts happening. But we have to clean that up.”

The Eagles are on pace for 133 penalties. The franchise high is 138, set in 1994 by a Rich Kotite team that lost its last seven games. The 2005 team — torn apart by the Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens feud — committed 134.

The only team with more penalties than the Eagles this year is the Raiders with 112. They always lead the league in penalties and at least this year they’re winning anyway.

The Eagles aren’t. Their lack of discipline has contributed greatly to their current stretch of seven losses in a nine-game span.

For the Eagles, it’s been just another part of the season that’s gotten away from coach Doug Pederson and his players.

“Penalties have got to stop,” Pederson said Sunday night. “Obviously, the turnovers and things like that too. It’s just not characteristic of how we coach and how we play.”

But it’s how this team has played. Consistently.

Only against the Bears, Cowboys and Giants have the Eagles committed fewer than seven penalties. When they commit 10 or more, they’re 1-4

“Some of it is focus, and some of it is anticipating the snap count,” Pederson said. “Some of it is a little on the quarterback, because we’re using so many snap counts and cadences to get indicators from the defense to tip their hat a little bit.

“Guys are geared up. We’ve got to focus in on that, because it’s something we work on every single week. Obviously the silent count we work on every week.”

Here’s a breakdown of the Eagles’ 100 penalties:

12 — Jason Peters

8 — Jason Kelce

7 — Nolan Carroll

6 — Zach Ertz, Allen Barbre

5 — Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox

4 — Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins

3 — Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Najee Goode, Marcus Smith, Brent Celek

2 — Jaylen Watkins, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Destiny Vaeao, Trey Burton, Matt Tobin

1 — Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, Ron Brooks, Jordan Matthews, Wendell Smallwood, Vinny Curry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Donnie Jones, Bennie Logan, Chris Maragos, Leodis McKelvin, Halapoulivaaati Vaitai.

And here’s a breakdown of the types of penalties the Eagles have been hit with:

22 — False start

16 — Offensive holding

10 — Unncessary roughness

8 — Defensive pass interference, offensive pass interference

7 — Defensive offsides

4 — Delay of game, illegal formation, defensive holding

3 — Roughing the passer, facemask, neutral zone infraction

2 — Chop block, defensive 12 men on the field, encroachment, illegal contact, running into the kicker

1 — Unsportsmanlike conduct, horse collar tackle, illegal block above the waist, illegal shift, offensive 12 men on the field, offensive offsides, illegal use of hands