Playing for Pride: Sixers Look to Salvage a Little Bit of Dignity in Game Four

Playing for Pride: Sixers Look to Salvage a Little Bit of Dignity in Game Four

In my preview for this series, I said something along the lines of "Stranger things have happened" when addressing the possibility of a Sixers upset in this series. Well, after the Heat handily won the first three games of this series, this qualification no longer applies--if the Sixers won the remaining four games o fthis series to stun the Big Three and the country at large, it would be the strangest thing that has ever happened--in teh NBA at least, and possibly in all of humanity. Needless to say, the Sixers are not going to win this series. What the boys are playing for now--besides not wanting that "I'm so disappointed in you" look from Grampa Collins for quitting--is pride, plain and simple. Can our starless group of young, slightly ill-fitting parts take one game from this potentially burgeoning NBA superpower?

Counting the regular season, the Sixers are now a rsounding 0-6 against the Heat this season--the only team in the Eastern Conference that the Sixers posted an 0-fer against--and simply can not seem to outplay this team for 48 consecutive minutes. Too much size, too much defensive intesntiy, too much talent, and the Sixers just can't hang for an entire game. Every single thing needs to go right for our boys for them to even have a chance, and the Liberty Ballers have been shooting themselves in the foot all series with missed layups, free throws and short-range jumpers, unable to capitalize on the few opportunities they have been given.

Perhaps the player with the most to prove today will be Andre Iguodala. With a combined 19 points for the series on 28% shooting, Iguodala has been absolutely miserable from the field, fuel for the fire of all the haters who say that no matter what else he's doing on the court, 'Dre is overpaid and over-rated for his inability to score consistently. We could certainly use some ball-in-basket from Andre today, but then again, stirring his hero complex might not be the best thing for this team either, since no one can shoot us out of a game quicker than 'Dre either. Another lackluster performance shooting the ball from AI9 today, we're all certainly going to be remembering it as the trade deadline approaches next season.

1:00 tip from the Wells Fargo Center, very possibly the last of the season. Let's hope our young guys have taken everything they can from this experience--Jrue, Evan and Jodie especially--and continue to grow today, so even if they do get swept, the games won't have been a complete waste. It's tough to take such small consolations, but considering that this was a team that started 3-13 and looked to be headed for a season of non-stop misery, we should probably be thankful to be playing for anything at all at this time of year. And hey, it's not over yet--their chances for a win today might not be fantastic, but in this case, stranger things have indeed happened.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Andrew Kulp (6-6)
Not sure if the Eagles really are in freefall mode or if they've simply been unable to overcome injuries while facing some better than advertised opponents. Either way, they have plenty to play for, because Washington has been embarrassing them for awhile now. With Jordan Matthews back and against a less than stellar D, I predict an end to the losing streak, so long as they finally come up with an answer for Kirk Cousins.

Eagles 26, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.