Sixers-Celtics In Possible Playoff Preview

Sixers-Celtics In Possible Playoff Preview

The last time the Liberty Ballers squared off
against their Atlantic Division rivals, Boston entered the game with a
46-16 record, and control of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Since then, the Celtics have struggled to keep their heads above water,
going 7-7 over their last 14, and ceding control of the number one seed
to Chicago. With the Heat suddenly surging as well, it's looking more
and more likely the C's could wind up settling for third.

Meanwhile, the Sixers cooled similarly following that meeting,
playing .500 ball over their last 12. However, the New York Knicks have
been steadily losing ground during the same period, and Doug Collins'
crew were able to build themselves a slight cushion in sixth place. As
you can see, with just five games remaining on Philly's slate, suddenly
this very likely could be a first round playoff matchup.

While we've debated whether or not the Sixers could actually win a
seven-game series against any of the top four clubs in the East, much of
that discussion previously centered around Chicago, Miami, or Orlando.
When the playoff push began in ernest, the Celtics were firmly
entrenched at the top. Even though they began falling, the focus in
Philadelphia had shifted to higher seeds, still seemingly out of
Boston's path.

Now with a win tonight, the Sixers can make it difficult for the C's
to climb back ahead Miami, while simultaneously controlling their own
destiny with the Knicks, ultimately setting up the post-season rematch
in little more than a week.

A Sixers-Celtics series would be fitting, as the previous meetings
have all had that type of feel. The three contests have been decided by a
total of eight points, with Boston squeaking out a pair of victories
back in December, and the 76ers finally exacting revenge in an 89-86 W
on March 12 in front of a near-capaity crowd at the Well.

Which brings us back to whether they can steal a series come
post-season time. If things stand the way they do today, and the Sixers
draw the Celtics... do they maybe have their number, even just a little
bit? The Sixers held leads in the final minutes of both losses, and
dropped the first tilt on alley-oop in the closing seconds. And those
games were eons ago, when this club was still finding its way.

Last time around, the Sixers led almost the entire 48 minutes. When
Boston was on the ropes in the final quarter, they looked frantic and
desperate. Coach Collins would say after the game the key to game was
lockdown defense, particularly against Ray Allen, who shot just 1/3 from
beyond the arc, and a pitiful 2/11 from the field.  The big three as a
whole (Allen, Garnett, Pierce) were limited to just 30 points.

But are the Celtics, with appearances in two of the last three NBA
Finals, and only a few years removed from a championship, really a good
post-season draw? Time will tell, but tonight is a huge, huge test—for
both franchises.

AP Photo

Jeremy Hellickson leaves final start of season with right knee sprain

Jeremy Hellickson leaves final start of season with right knee sprain

Updated: 9:15 p.m.

ATLANTA — Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson left his final start of the season Thursday night with a right knee sprain.

Facing the Atlanta Braves, Hellickson had gotten one out in the fourth inning when he waved for athletic trainer Scott Sheridan to come to the mound. Hellickson left the field with Sheridan by his side.

Hellickson did not allow a run in 3 1/3 innings. He gave up just one hit, walked none and struck out four.

Hellickson finished the season 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts. The Phillies acquired the 29-year-old right-hander in a trade with Arizona last fall. 

Hellickson will become a free agent after the World Series. The Phillies could extend him a one-year salary offer of $17 million. If Hellickson accepts, he would return to the club in 2017. If he rejects the offer and seeks a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Phillies would get a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next year's draft. 

Former Eagles CB Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Former Eagles CB Byron Maxwell benched by Dolphins

Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell is not starting tonight against the Bengals. Maxwell, who the Eagles traded this past offseason, was already seeing his playing time diminish. Now, he will sit in favor of Tony Lippett, who has not seen a single snap for the Dolphins this season.

The Eagles' big trade this offseason keeps getting better and better. They acquired the eighth overall pick in the draft in exchange for the 13th overall pick, Maxwell and Kiko Alonzo. Not only were they able to rid themselves of Maxwell’s awful contract, but they were able to get value for a player who is now not considered an NFL starter. 

The eighth overall pick that the Eagles acquired from Miami was flipped to the Browns among other picks to move up to No. 2. As you may know, that No. 2 pick became offensive Rookie of the Month Carson Wentz. 

At the time of the trade, Maxwell originally failed his physical because of a shoulder injury. It was reported that the shoulder was so bad he could not perform a simple pushup, but the Dolphins traded for him anyway.

The Byron Maxwell trade was the stepping stone for the Eagles to land their quarterback of the future, and this news can only make them feel better about the move. Howie Roseman had an incredible offseason cleaning up the mess Chip Kelly left behind, and Maxwell’s benching will certainly help his case for executive of the year.