Sixers Host One of Many Teams That Could Maybe Be the Second-Best Team in the East

Sixers Host One of Many Teams That Could Maybe Be the Second-Best Team in the East

Who's the best team in the East that isn't the Miami Heat? It doesn't
really matter, since the Heat are so laughably superior to every other
team in the conference right now, but one of the teams with a case would
be the Indiana Pacers, who overcame a slow start to the season (and an
injury to their nominal best player, Danny Granger) to climb to a 40-25
record, second-best not in the West (though they'd only be #6 over
there, and not even all that close to #5). Still, like many teams not
based out of South Florida, the Pacers have struggled a bit as of late,
dropping one at home last night to the Lakers (playing without Kobe
Bryant) and getting blown out by those damn Heat a couple games earlier.


The Sixers, meanwhile, have been playing their best ball of
2013 over their last two games—though admittedly that's not saying
much—convincingly beating the Nets, and then hanging with the Heat down
to the final minute in back-to-back games at Wells Fargo Center. Coming
off those two outings, as well as a solid three days' rest, it's
possible the Sixers will actually give the Pacers (traveling on a
back-to-back themselves) something of a game tonight. Arrogant to assume
any level of performance from this bunch, though, so let's not start
re-evaluating the playoff picture just yet. (The Ballers are eight games
out with 18 to go, by the way. They'd have to go something like 15-3 to
even have a chance.)

7:30 tip from the WFC. Be sure to vote in Liberty Ballers' Most Sixers Tournament Ever,
if you haven't already. Really hoping that the time Doug Collins
insisted that Bradley Beal's name was Jeremy makes an appearance in one
of the other regions.

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova (8-0) at La Salle (4-2) 
7 p.m. at The Palestra

Villanova, now the top-ranked team in the country, travels to the Palestra on Tuesday night for another Big 5 game, this one against La Salle (the home team), which has won three straight games.

Let's get you ready for the matchup:

Last time out
La Salle beat Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday.

Villanova won, 88-47, over Saint Joseph’s.

Scouting report
Villanova, which is undefeated, has become the No. 1 team in the country after beating St. Joe’s handily on Saturday. Josh Hart, who had a triple-double in the game, has been a major reason for the Wildcats' success so far this season. The senior is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

La Salle has won three games in a row after losing at the buzzer to Texas Southern on its homecoming game. Against Bucknell, Jordan Price had 20 points, while B.J. Johnson had 22. Johnson, a transfer from Syracuse, leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game.

What it means
Villanova is the best in the country right now, and it moved up to No. 1 after Kentucky lost to UCLA. Another win will give the Wildcats good momentum heading into their Saturday matchup with No. 23 Notre Dame. A victory would also extend Villanova's all-time record Big 5 winning streak to 16 games.

La Salle head coach John Gianinni could potentially be on the hot seat if the Explorers suffer another poor season. A win against the defending national champions would alleviate any chatter about his status.

Series history
This is the first and only time the Big 5 rivals will meet this season. Jay Wright is 13-2 all-time against the Explorers, and his group blew them out last season, 76-47.

What’s next?
La Salle will head to Miami for the Hoophall Miami Invitational to take on Georgetown this Saturday at the American Airlines Arena.

Villanova travels to Newark, New Jersey, to meet No. 23 Notre Dame at the Prudential Center.