Sixers host Cavs, noted "Big Human" Andrew Bynum may or may not play

Sixers host Cavs, noted "Big Human" Andrew Bynum may or may not play

Sixers vs. Cavaliers doesn't exactly have much of an organic grudge match feel to it. The two play in different divisions, have rarely been particularly good at the same time, and have little shared history beyond the disastrous (for the Sixers, anyway) Brad Daugherty-Roy Hinson trade 27 years ago. The Cavs have been had good moments and bad moments this year and are expected to eventually do better, the Sixers have had good moments and bad moments and are expected to eventually do worse.

The only thing really giving this Friday night matchup is That No Longer That-Funny-Looking Kid With the Shorn Hair, Andrew Bynum, in his first time playing on the Wells Fargo Center since...well, whenever the Lakers played here in 2011-'12, I guess. Bynum of course was supposed to play for the Sixers last year, didn't, and has since signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It sounds like a perfect time for Philly fans to indulge all their worst, most ESPN-baiting impulses, and boo the everloving crap out of Andrew Bynum any time he touches the ball, breathes, or otherwise allows his existence to be felt tonight at the WFC. And no doubt, some will do just that, still smarting at the $50 they wasted on a Bynum #33 Shirsey or the hours they wasted watching Bynum highlights on loop, just waiting for The Day.

I imagine that it won't be all that satisfying, though. If Bynum is a villain, he's not a very powerful one at the moment--despite him playing in four games this season, his knee issues have not abated, and his pre-game media quotes have been far more pitiable than infuriating. Indeed, an hour before gametime, it's not even sure that he'll play at all against the Sixers tonight.

For their part, Bynum's Sixer ex-teammates appear to sympathize.

Yeah. Hard to get too worked up at this point. Besides, as I talked about earlier, we're probably better off that things went the way they did. I'd still like to win the game and I'll still be pissed if Bynum somehow explodes for 25 and ten, but it's looking like the chances of that are pretty slim at the moment.

Anyway, Sixers are 3-2, and with a loss tonight, they'll have officially nullified their ridiculous 3-0 start, and perhaps starting the tankapalooza of a season we expected all along, just six games late. Long as Spence and Evan keep playing the way they have been, giving us all sorts of options with them as the season progresses, and long as MCW continues to progress in the ways we want him to, that's fine by me--though I am in the building tonight, so I wouldn't complain about an exciting win either.

7:00 tip from the WFC. Bynum lives, but not all that well. Let's not make it more than what it is. You'll make Evan sad.

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit, a right-hander, has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime ERA of 3.79 in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has pitched mostly in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could chose to trade Gomez or Neris. Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.