How are Things Going Up There With the Eighth Seed, Milwaukee?

How are Things Going Up There With the Eighth Seed, Milwaukee?

Isn't it terrible that the Sixers are still ostensibly the ninth-best
team in the East, just one team away from a playoff position? Of course,
the Milwaukee Bucks are still seven-and-a-half games in front of us in
that eighth position, and they have the tiebreaker with us so it's
really eight-and-a-half, thus making tonight's game something of a moot
point, though maybe not quite for the Bucks, since after a five-game
Celtics losing streak, they could actually stand a chance at moving up
to the #7 seed and avoiding the unbeatable Heat in the first round. So
there will be playoff implications of some sort when the Bucks visit the
Wells Fargo Center tonight, just not for the Liberty Ballers.


Anyway, the Sixers return home after 1-3 road trip, one which really
should've been 2-2 considering how they blew that game in Denver, but
one in which they were beaten so bad by the Clippers and (Monday night)
the Jazz that one of those games arguably should've counted for two
losses anyway. But the team has played decently at home this year,
especially recently, where the team posted a 3-1 stand against four
teams with better records than them. And after three losses to the Bucks
this year—games that could've landed the Sixers in the playoff hunt if
they'd swung the other way—you can bet they'll be hankering for an
overdue W tonight. (Of course, with the Wizards, Wolves and Hornets all
winning a couple games recently, some stacked-up losses could also help
the Sixers climb to #9 or #8 on the draft board by season's end, so
maybe just root for a close game in which everyone has fun and nobody
gets hurt.)


7:00 tip from the WFC. 13 other games tonight, including ones a lot
more meaningful this one—Denver-San Antonio, New York-Memphis, and of
course, Miami-Chicago. I hear Derrick Rose is finally gonna make his
regular-season return in that one, and by "I hear" I mean "I hope,
because that would be cool." 

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

usa-john-giannini-la-salle-baskebtall.jpg
USA Today Images

La Salle pummeled by VCU, 90-52, snapping 5-game streak

RICHMOND, Va. -- Justin Tillman had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead five VCU players in double figures in a 90-52 victory over La Salle on Sunday.

VCU held La Salle to 15 made field goals and forced 16 turnovers.

VCU went on a 19-0 first-half run -- with 11 points from JeQuan Lewis -- for a 38-14 lead and the Rams led 42-16 at halftime after shooting 51.5 percent. Lewis made 5 of 6 shots and had 13 of his 15 points in the first half.

Samir Doughty added 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10). Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed had 13 points and 11 rebounds and Jordan Burgess scored 10. Tillman was 7 of 10 from the field as the Rams shot 56.5 percent.

Jordan Price and Saul Phiri each scored 11 points for La Salle (11-6, 5-2) and Pookie Powell added 10. It was a season-high for the freshman Phiri but the Explorers were just 15-of-53 shooting (28.3 percent).

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

The Sixers without Joel Embiid: Still just the Sixers

Well, if anyone hoped the Sixers' performance at game's end against Portland on Friday night -- with Joel Embiid riding the bench, ruled out for the game's remainder with a left knee contusion -- would carry over to an entirely Embiid-less game again Saturdaynight... I guess you're not alone, 'coz I sorta did. Perhaps it shouldn't have been particularly surprising to see that the Sixers were still the same team last night in Atlanta they were the previous Saturday against the Wizards: good enough to hang against an above-average East team, but not nearly good enough to actually win. 

At least they kept this one closer longer. Normally, against the Hawks, once the single-digit lead in the first half balloons into the double-digit lead in the third quarter, it never deflates back, but this time we cut it down to seven a couple times -- just never hitting that one big shot that would've really made things interesting, ultimately losing 110-93. It doesn't help that Nik Stauskas is in the midst of one of his most refrigerated runs as a Sixer, going just 7-30 (3-16 from deep) over Philly's last five games, or that Dario Saric is similarly bricking shots near and wide, a remarkable 2 for 22 over his last couple contests. 

This, sadly, is a primary reason why the Sixers' playoff hopes, while fun to dream about, are still unlikely to be more than a flicker. Over the next few weeks, the Sixers have a trio of back-to-backs coming up, with the back-end games coming against Milwaukee, Sacramento and San Antonio -- none of which Philly, 2-12 without their star center, are probable to win sans JoJo. Even if they can take care of business with Embiid on the court, it'll be tough to make up the ground that the Sons of Sam need to while they have to drop one every three or four games as Joel sits. 

That's fine, though. This season's been super-fun, but we shouldn't get too far ahead of ourselves: Let's ensure Embiid's health, maybe get Ben Simmons out there too, secure a nice draft pick or two (though the plummeting Kings could be of significant help with that themselves), and focus on making next year even more of a thing. The future remains impossibly bright, even if the present is going to have to be borderline-unwatchable once or twice a week.