Can They Do It Again? Heat Give Sixers Chance for Second-Straight Biggest Win of Season

Can They Do It Again? Heat Give Sixers Chance for Second-Straight Biggest Win of Season

The Sixers basically have nothing left to prove at this point. They're
16-6, they've won against good teams, they've blown out bad teams, and
they even got that Statement Win they'd long been searching for two
nights ago against Chicago. All that's left to do now is to keep on
keeping on—beating the teams below them, and measuring up to the teams
above them. And the one team, at least in the East, that's still well
above them—though their records are identical—is the Miami Heat.

It's not so much that the Heat have the Sixers number...it's just
that they consistently prove to be better. When they're executing and
shooting the way they did when the two teams met a few Saturdays back, a
113-92 loss, it's hard to imagine any NBA team of the 21st century
beating them, let alone a still up-and-coming Sixers squad. But then
again, since then, the Heat have lost twice to the Milwaukee Bucks—a
sub-.500 team missing one of their lineup cornerstones in Andrew
Bogut—proving that, in the right set of circumstances, they are an
imminently beatable team.

What those circumstances are remains somewhat beyond me, since it
took a miracle Lou Williams three to get the Sixers their one win in the
nine times the two teams have faced off since the Big Three era
commenced. But if the team that held Chicago to 55 points through three
quarters shows up tonight, they should at least have a chance—though
man, would it have helped to get back Spencer Hawes, who looks to be out
yet again, for this one. Perhaps at least we'll actually see some of
Nik Vucevic tonight, who had some success in his minutes against the
Heat in the first matchup—after all, we can't ride Lavoy Allen's hot
streak forever. (Can we?)

7:00 tip from the WFC. And while you're watching, maybe keep an eye
on Boston-New York on ESPN, a matchup between two enigmatic first-half
flops, both of whom are gonna have a hell of a time trying to catch up
to the Sixers in the Atlantic Division this year. Keep playing like
this, Philly could be supplanting both on that national schedule soon
enough.

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

ap-temple.jpg
The Associated Press

Temple cracks Top 25 in final CFP rankings, will play in Military Bowl

After winning its first American Athletic Conference championship Saturday, Temple learned its postseason fate Sunday and it does not involve a New Year's Six bowl game.

The Owls will play in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland. Their opponent will be announced at 4 p.m. Temple also finished No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff rankings and No. 23 in the AP poll.

At 10-3, Temple has its first back-to-back 10-win season in program history. It's also the first time the Owls have been ranked in consecutive seasons. Head coach Matt Rhule now has 28 wins as Temple's head coach, tying him with Bruce Arians' for the sixth-most in school history.

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers-Predators 5 things: Going for longest win streak since 2014

Flyers (13-10-3) at Predators (11-8-4)
6 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

The Flyers have won a season-high four games in a row. They'll try to make it five Sunday night when they visit the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena for the second game of a back-to-back set.

Let's take a look at five things you need to know.

1. Streaking like 2014?
Not only do the Flyers have a chance to extend their season-best winning streak, but they're also looking to win their most consecutive games since March 15-22, 2014, when they also won five straight.

The Flyers have put up strong showings in the back ends of back-to-backs, going 4-1-1 thus far.

“You just have to have the work ethic night in and night out," Steve Mason said Saturday after the Flyers' 3-1 win over the Blackhawks. "And, I think we were struggling to find that. There are games when we were swarming and giving teams no other option, and other nights we were chasing the puck.

"We have another tough test going to Nashville to play. So, we’re going to have to follow up with another great effort.” 

2. A Provorov encore?
Ivan Provorov's confidence has to be at his highest of the season.

In Saturday's win, the 19-year-old blueliner scored two goals in a 31-second span to double his goal total through the first 25 games.

Provorov said he thinks defense first, but the offensive production is a good sign.

“Score one goal in a game, it’s a good feeling. Score two in one shift, it’s unbelievable,” Provorov said.

“Every time you score, it’s like a confidence booster."

3. Predators finding stride
After losing eight of their first 11 games, Peter Laviolette's Predators have gotten on track, going 8-3-1 since.

Nashville ranks in the top half of the league in goals per game (3.00 — tied for fifth), goals against per game (2.61 — 15th), power-play percentage (22.6 — sixth) and penalty-kill percentage (84.5 — 10th).

Last time out, the Predators blew a 4-1 lead in the third period for a 5-4 overtime loss to the Devils on Saturday, so they should be extra focused.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: On Saturday, Brayden Schenn scored just his second goal in his past 18 games. Schenn can be streaky so maybe he feeds off that goal. He's also a career plus-4 against the Predators, with two goals and three assists in eight games.

Predators: Let's go P.K. Subban, who isn't exactly a favorite among Flyers fans. He's off to a nice start in his first season in Nashville with six goals and 10 assists, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last eight games.

5. This and that
• Flyers goalie Steve Mason is 7-7-5 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 career games against the Predators.

• Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne is 3-2-2 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in seven career games against the Flyers.

• Claude Giroux is four assists away from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth on the Flyers’ all-time list.