Sixers Look for Statement Win Over Heat Tonight in Miami

Sixers Look for Statement Win Over Heat Tonight in Miami

After last night's big win over the Atlanta Hawks at the excited Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers are faced with an even tougher test tonight down in Miami as they take on LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

While the Sixers had their hands full grinding out a ridiculously impressive second half against the Hawks last night, the Heat very well could have been sitting poolside yesterday sipping strawberry daiquiris.

"They're rested and I'm sure they got some sunshine, 80 degrees [on Friday]," Coach Doug Collins said of tonight's opponent. "Obviously it's going to be a hell of a challenge. We're going to need a lot of guys to play.

"LeBron is playing fantastic basketball. They are a team, when they're on all cylinders, are probably the best defensive team in the NBA. We played them in the playoffs last year and scoring against them is very tough.

"We're going to have to shoot the ball better tomorrow night."

It's true. While the Sixers got red hot in the third quarter, it was largely due in part to their swarming defense generating easy fastbreak buckets -- and Jodie Meeks finding his rhythm from behind the arc. As a team, the Sixers shot very poorly for most of the night.

The Heat are the team many experts expect to be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy at the end of the season, so saying this game is another huge test is obvious. While the Heat are without Dwyane Wade once again, they're coming off an impressive win over the Los Angeles Lakers and had an off-day on Friday while the Sixers' best players were putting up 40 tough minutes.

Andre Iguodala's shutdown defense on Joe Johnson on Friday night was a performance he really had to work for, and he could be feeling the repercussions of it this evening.

"They hit me with some pretty hard screens," Iguodala said of the Hawks last night. "It got me really tired but I just kept fighting through it."

Dre and the boys will have to keep fighting tonight as they'll have their hands full covering LeBron and the hot, hot Heat.

7:30 tip from South Beach*.

*not really South Beach

Also of note: the Miami Heat will be rocking these nifty throwbacks from the ABA team known as the Miami Floridians. Pretty sweet look, if you ask me. Curious to see how it translates onto the court.

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.