Everybody's Gone to the Garden: Knicks Welcome 7-2 Sixers to the Jungle

Everybody's Gone to the Garden: Knicks Welcome 7-2 Sixers to the Jungle

Hey, remember how the Knicks were supposed to be the third best team in
the East this season? OK, it's a little early still to dance on the
grave of that prediction just yet, and the team is only two games in
back of the Sixers at 5-4, but man, things are not going as planned in
the Big Apple this season thusfar. Carmelo Anthony has been
unquestionably brilliant, averaging a 27-6-4 with the highest PER of his
career, and Amar'e Stoudemire has been a capable second fiddle with his
21 and 9, but prized big man acquisition Tyson Chandler hasn't really
gotten into the flow yet, the team's back-court situation is
catastrophic (so much so that the injured Baron Davis, who the Clippers
gave up a lottery pick to get rid of last year, is being awaited as a
potential team savior), and their bench is virtually non-existent—the
Knicks' "nightshift" scored a whopping three points in their victory
over Charlotte two nights ago.

In other words, as far as winning
teams go, the Knicks have been virtually the polar opposite of the
Sixers this year. The Sixers are incredibly balanced, the Knicks are
impossibly top-heavy. The Sixers rely on their bench for a boost, the
Knicks try to cycle through their bench as quickly and painlessly as
possible. The Sixers have been blowing out inferior teams by scores of
27, 28 and 35, the Knicks beat the Wizards by three and the Bobcats by
four (at home!!). The Sixers play solid, aggressive, team-wide defense,
the Knicks really, really hope that Tyson Chandler will make up for
their mental lapses. There's no doubt which of the two teams have been
better this season—while Philly (somewhat speciously) tops Hollinger's
first Power Rankings of the season, the Knicks are down in the 20s.

Still,
the Knicks do have the talent, and they do have the players to put a
real hurting on the Sixers should the team slip at all in the third game
of their first back-to-back-to-back of the season. 'Melo is a matchup
nightmare for any team, and Amar'e absolutely torched the Sixers at the
Garden last year, averaging 31 points and 11 rebounds in the Sixers' two
visits to NY. And speaking of the Garden, the Knicks faithful will
undoubtedly be out in full force tonight, a formidable sixth man at any
point in the season, and especially now that their team has won three
straight (against the Wizards, Pistons, and Bobcats, but still) and is
facing a suddenly much-hyped opponent in the Sixers.

7:30 tip from MSG. "It's interesting that if you're losing, you're
losing," Coach Collins said after last night's immolation of the now 3-7
Sacramento Kings. "But if you're
winning, it's, who are you beating? I don't get into all that nonsense.
These are all professional teams." Well, the Ballers are playing against
another professional team tonight, and it won't be an easy W by any
means, but given the way both teams have played through nine games...you
gotta like our chances. Go Sixers.

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video. You can also catch Gaffigan's new standup special titled "Cinco" on Netflix.