Remember when it was safe to just presume that the Sixers were gonna
cruise to the Atlantic Division crown? Yeah. Good times. Certainly is
less than certain these days, with the Celtics joining the Sixers at
28-22 and the Knicks just two and a half games behind both at 26-25. The
good news, for tonight at least, is that the Sixers have by far the
easiest Friday matchup of the three—visiting the 11-39 Wizards in D.C.,
while the Celtics travel to Minnesota to take on the 25-27 Timberwolves,
and the Knicks travel south to the ATL for a match with the 30-22
Hawks. Every win is crucial at this point as the Ballers hope to take
the Atlantic Division and avoid a potential 7th seed and first-round
matchup with the Heat—again.
The Wizards, then. They're a little better and a little tougher than the
first three times three times we saw them this year—which we won all
three of, by an average of over 21 points, so maybe that's not such a
bold statement. But they've traded talented-but-forever-raw prospect
center JaVale McGee for the much more solid, much more proven center
Nene, and since that trade...well, they've still basically sucked,
losing their last five games, but maybe a little less so, since all but
one of those losses were by less than five points, including to playoff
teams such as the Pacers, Hawks and Celtics. The Sixers shouldn't expect
them to be the pushovers they saw in the previous three (five if you
count the pre-season) meetings this year.
As for the Sixers, All-Star Andre Iguodala is again a gametime decision
after missing two games with tendinitis. It's hard to say how much the
Sixers have missed 'Dre in his absence since they've done exactly as
we'd expect they would anyway in those two games without him—they lost
by a lot to the Spurs and then won by a lot against the Cavs. One
undoubted positive about his injury, however, is that it appears to have
allowed Jodie Meeks a chance to get back on track, as he exploded
against Cleveland for a career-high (and team season-high) 31 points,
hitting seven of ten threes and reclaiming the stroke that has eluded
him for much of the season. We could certainly use a hot Jodie down the
7:00 tip from the Verizon Center. “We know we’re resilient, we know what we have to do,” Coach Collins
said of the team's final stretch of the season. “We’ve just got to play. That’s all it is. Whether the game is road or
home.” I don't think we know just how resilient this team is yet, but I suppose we're about to find out.
Two bizarre goals less than two minutes apart ruined a special night for the Flyers on Thursday at Wells Fargo Center.
Martin Hanzal scored a tie-breaking goal simultaneously while teammate Jakob Chychrun was being pounded in a fight with Brayden Schenn during a 2-2 game.
Then, rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov tackled Brad Richardson, who fell into goalie Steve Mason for a shorthanded goal that counted after review for interference.
That’s one way of losing as hockey game, 5-4.
Brandon Manning, who has been outstanding on both sides of the puck, tried an ill-advised clearing pass up the high slot and it was picked off by pinching defenseman Oliver Edkman-Larsson for a quick turnaround shot to make it a 2-0 lead.
A huge save on Anthony Duclair in the first period by Mason after a turnover from Andrew MacDonald. Mason didn’t look great on the fifth goal. Rushes to the net were a problem in front of him.
The Flyers scored three against Buffalo. In this one, they had five scattered shots over their first three power plays. That's not going to get it done. But they did get it done on their fifth power play with Schenn diving with his stick extended hit the ice as he tipped Shayne Gostisbehere’s point shot home to tie the game, 2-2. The Flyers were 2 for 8 on the power play.
Claude Giroux leads with six overall.
There was no Boyd Gordon in this one to take PK draws. That went to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Roman Lyubimov had a nice shorthanded move for a possible scoring chance but couldn’t complete it.
You've got to like Sean Couturier upending Duclair during the opening minutes of play along the left boards. Duclair later had a fine assist on Jamie McGinn’s goal that gave the 'Yotes a 1-0 lead.
Ryan White had a goal that made it 5-3 late in the game.
The new third line with Nick Cousins centering Schenn and Dale Weise scored in the second period. All three picked up a point with Cousins banging home the Schenn rebound to make it a 2-1 game.
Chychrun lost to Schenn, who had sent Michael Stone to the boards hard with a legal shoulder check. Stone still assisted on Hanzal's goal that began the madness that saw Arizona get two quickies.
Injured: Forwards Scott Laughton (knee) and Michael Raffl (abdominal pull), defenseman Michael Del Zotto (knee). Healthy: forward Gordon and defenseman Nick Schultz.
The Flyers will practice Friday at Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., and host the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers' meeting on Thursday to address the national anthem situation on opening night was led by VP of Content and Integrated Marketing Jason Wiley, John Gonzalez reported.
Wiley and team executives decided not to have Sevyn Streeter perform the national anthem because she wore a "We Matter" shirt, according to the report. The team had concerns Streeter would have further protests.
A member of the Sixers' dance team performed in her place.
Wiley helped book Streeter, according to the report, and had previously worked for Bad Boy Records and had music industry contacts.
CBS3 reported Thursday that Streeter had signed a contract that barred her from making a political statement during the performance (see story).
The Sixers discussed the incident and are considering options on how to address it (see story).
“I think the team, not only do we want to speak up on the matter that happened yesterday, but I feel like we’re now starting to push, like it’s not just about saying something, it’s about making a difference,” Nik Stauskas said. “It’s about going out there and doing something. So we don’t really know what we’re going to do yet, but I know a lot of guys on this team are eager to go out there and make a difference one way or another.”