Sixers Play First Actually Good Opponent in Weeks at Home Tonight

Sixers Play First Actually Good Opponent in Weeks at Home Tonight

The Philadelphia 76ers recently completed a six-game pre-Thanksgiving
stretch which included five games at home and opponents including the
Jazz, Raptors, Pistons and Cavaliers (twice). It would've been awesome
if the Sixers had grabbed five or (lord forbid) all six of those, and
would've been good if they had won four of 'em, but instead, the Ballers
split the six-gamer down the middle, getting three and giving three.
Now, things are about to get a little tougher, starting tonight with a
contest against the 9-4, Northwest-best Oklahoma City Thunder.


OKC has been a little stilted out of the gate, struggling to adjust a
bit after trading away a core player in the off-season in dynamic
scoring guard James Harden. They got a good return in bench
sharp-shooter Kevin Martin, but have missed Harden's stability and
play-making, and have struggled offensively at times—though when you
have two All-NBA scorers averaging over 20 a game in Kevin Durant and
Russell Westbrook, "struggle" is always a relative term. In any event,
OKC dropped a tough one last night against the erratic Boston Celtics,
so look for the Thunder to be out for blood tonight at the Wells Fargo
Center.


The Sixers should be smarting a little themselves after a brutal
loss against a crappy, injured Cavaliers team in Cleveland, which saw
Cleveland connect on 13 out of 23 threes as little-used reserve guard
Jeremy Pargo went for a career high 28 after franchise Cav Kyrie Irving
was held to 14 in the two teams' first matchup of the season. "Just one
of those games" was my Dad's analysis and I'm inclined to agree, though
some of the team's flaws were badly exposed in that game—particularly
their lack of a solid presence in the middle, as the team's small lineup
(with Thad at the five) was pummeled on the boards by Anderson Varejao
at the end of the game, getting the team endless second opportunities
that they used to bury the Sixers.


It'll be interesting to see what big man rotation Coach Collins goes
with tonight, as well as what he plans to do about the superstar
swingman Durant, as the last time the Sixers faced a dynamic wing like
KD, the Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, the results were not pretty. You'd like
to see Evan Turner, who has struggled with his shot in the last few but
contributed with his rebounding and passing, picking up the challenge,
though Dorell Wright and Thaddeus Young will also likely see action on
Durant as well. And Jrue Holiday will have a hell of a matchup of his
own to work with, as he will undoubtedly be stuck to his fellow UCLA
alum Westbrook for most of the game.


7:00 tip from the WFC. If the Sixers struggle out of the gate
tonight, a starting lineup shakeup might be called for, and we don't
want to see that—with the possible exception of actually getting a
starting center at some point.

Sixers-Grizzlies 5 things: Walking wounded duel in Memphis

Sixers-Grizzlies 5 things: Walking wounded duel in Memphis

The Sixers (4-17) open a three-game road trip against the Memphis Grizzlies (14-8) at FedEx Forum on Tuesday night (8 p.m./TCN and CSNPhilly.com).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Walking wounded
There will be enough players between both teams for the Sixers and Grizzlies to play on Tuesday ... barely.

The Sixers, losers of seven straight, have several key players sidelined for the opener of this road trip. The biggest absence will obviously be Joel Embiid, who will sit out for rest after struggling Monday in the first game of the back-to-back set.

Joining Embiid on the shelf for Tuesday's game will be Jahlil Okafor and Robert Covington while Jerryd Bayless is questionable to suit up. That's in addition to Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel having yet to play this season.

The Sixers won't find much sympathy in Memphis as the Grizzlies' injury situation is actually worse.

After using an NBA record 28 different players last season because of injury, the Grizzlies have already received a hardship exemption from the league this year to sign guard Toney Douglas. That's because the Grizz are currently down five players, including star guard Mike Conley and swingman Chandler Parsons.

2. One big problem
One player who will be suiting up for the Grizzlies is Marc Gasol, which is certainly bad news for the Sixers.

Now in his ninth season, Gasol is playing some of his best basketball. Despite the center's rebounds dipping to 5.7 a game, he is putting up career highs in points (18.9) and assists (4.2).

The Sixers know all too well just how good Gasol has been this season. The two-time All-Star went off for 27 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks in the Grizzlies' double-overtime win over the Sixers on the night before Thanksgiving.

That was before the Sixers got hit even harder by the injury bug. There's no telling what Gasol will do against a team with one available center in Richaun Holmes.

3. Foul play
With so many players not able to take the floor, the Sixers -- Holmes in particular -- would be wise to stay out of foul trouble.

The Sixers average 22.0 fouls per game, the fifth-highest mark in the league.

On the flip side, the Sixers could benefit from attacking the Grizzlies. Memphis is obviously limited with players because of its own injury issues and actually averages 23.8 fouls per game, the second-highest rate in the NBA.

4. Injuries
Bayless (wrist) is questionable. Embiid (rest), Okafor (illness), Covington (knee/illness), Noel (knee) and Simmons (foot) are out for the Sixers.

Zach Randolph (personal) is a game-time decision. Conley (back), Parsons (knee), Vince Carter (hip), James Ennis (calf) and Brandan Wright (ankle) are out for the Grizzlies.

5. This and that
- The Sixers have lost eight straight to the Grizzlies.

- The Grizzlies are 10-0 in games decided by five points or less or have reached overtime.

- The Sixers are 1-6 in games Embiid has sat out this season.

Baylor hires Temple's Matt Rhule as next head coach

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Baylor hires Temple's Matt Rhule as next head coach

Just when it hit its peak, the Matt Rhule era at Temple is over.

Rhule has accepted the open job at Baylor, a Big 12 school. The news was first reported by Fox Sports and was confirmed by Baylor football’s official Twitter account.

Rhule, who became the head coach of the Owls in 2012 after Steve Addazio left for Boston College, left an indelible mark on a downtrodden program with a 28-23 record in four seasons. While that may not look like a spectacular record, it's a remarkable job for a program that was a mere board of directors vote or two away from extinction just over a decade ago. Temple is 20-7 over the past two seasons, the best two-season mark in school history. Rhule's 28 wins tie him with Bruce Arians for sixth most in school history.

Rhule spent parts of 10 seasons at Temple as he filled various roles on the coaching staffs of both Al Golden and Addazio. He left in 2011 for a role on Tom Coughlin's staff with the New York Giants before coming back to North Broad Street.

"I am truly honored and humbled to join the Baylor Family," Rhule said in a press release sent by Baylor Tuesday afternoon. "I can't thank President (David) Garland and (athletic director) Mack Rhoades enough for this incredible opportunity. Baylor is a tremendous institution with a history of football success and I know the passion that so many have for the Bears will help bring the community together to reach even greater heights. I am excited to get started."

Tuesday's news comes just three days after Rhule lead the Owls to victory over No. 19 Navy in the AAC title game. It was the program's first conference title since 1967 and just the second in school history.

Though the Owls missed out on the Cotton Bowl at-large berth that went to undefeated Western Michigan, they are set to face Wake Forest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Baylor has been mired in controversy in recent years as sexual assault scandals have rocked the program and ultimately cost head coach Art Briles his job.

Baylor went 6-6 this season.

According to a report by ESPN's Matt Fortuna, tight ends coach Ed Foley will be the Owls' interim head coach.

Temple has set a 1:30 p.m. press conference on Tuesday to discuss today's news.