Sixers-Knicks: The Only Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon

Sixers-Knicks: The Only Way to Spend a Sunday Afternoon

What is it about facing a team on a cold streak that seems so much more
terrifying than facing a team that's actually been playing well? Since
beating the Cleveland Cavaliers at home on Leap Day, the Knicks have
been brutal, dropping consecutive games to the Celtics, Mavericks, Spurs
and Bucks, with only the first and last even being particularly close
contests. The Linsanity honeymoon is over, Carmelo Anthony still hasn't
found his stride with the new lineup, and the Knicks' temporarily
effective D has vanished into the midtown air.

So naturally, this could only mean one thing: That the Knicks have been
dogging it for four games just to make sure they have the energy and
motivation to mercilessly beat down the Sixers at noon today at MSG.
Stupid sports fandom.

In reality, you have to like the Sixers' chances. The Ballers have
finally found their stride post-All-Star break, and are 2-1 since adding
Evan Turner to the starting lineup, with the two wins coming by a
combined 45 points against good (well, decent) Celtics and Jazz teams.
The lineup is clicking, and aside from the perpetually absent Spencer
Hawes (finally due back Wednesday against the Pacers, and not a moment
too soon), healthy as well. On paper, you have to like our chances
against this disjointed, incoherent New York Knicks team.

Still, the Knicks have something else on their side: Recent history. The
Sixers came to MSG in January on the heels of some of their hottest
play of the season, but came up short against a physical, better-sized
Knicks team, unable to keep Carmelo and Amar'e Stoudemire from getting
theirs. And this was before the Knicks had a point guard—Lin may have
cooled off some recently, but he's still a damn sight better at running a
team than Iman Shumpert and Tony Douglas, and with Jrue Holiday
struggling defensively against high-level point guards like Derrick Rose
and Brandon Jennings recently (and safety valve Andre Iguodala way busy
with Carmelo Anthony), keeping Lin in check won't be an easy task.
Expect Turner to get the call against Lin on occasion, and of course,
expect to see far too much of Tony Battie.

12:00 tip from MSG. The Sixers always seem to play the Knicks in these
Sunday matinees at pivotal moments in their season, and today is no
exception. Is the team's improvement with increased minutes for Turner
for real, or just a couple lucky games in a row? Is this team still the
class of the Atlantic, and can we stay ahead of not just the Knicks, but
the two-games-back Celtics, who play the Lakers later this afternoon?
Hoping these answers are yes—bummer of a Sunday afternoon otherwise.

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Topps cover man Claude Giroux answers U.S.-Canada questions

Claude Giroux spent Friday signing virtual autographs as the cover athlete for Topps NHL Skate 2017, a new onilne digital trading card game. Remember when trading cards came in a bubble gum pack? 

After the event, Giroux sat down with CSN's Michael Barkann on Philly Sports Talk for a game of “Who Does It Better: Canada or the United States?”

The game started off with a few easy softball questions, with Giroux picking the NFL over the Candian Football League. Then it got a little tougher, as Giroux chose Canadian hockey over U.S. hockey.

Despite talents like Drake and Shania Twain, Giroux went with the U.S. over Canada in music, and also chose American bacon over Canadian bacon.

Eventually, Barkann asked Giroux which beer he preffered.

“I don’t drink beer," Giroux responded.

Really? What Canadian doesn't like beer?

As he started to get up out of his seat after the interview, Giroux showed his true colors. “I love beer. I love beer,” he said.

Check out the video above to see the full game. 

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

Wayne Gretzky defends Connor McDavid's outburst over Brandon Manning

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As the primary target of opponents over his Hall of Fame career, Wayne Gretzky can certainly empathize with the frustration of Oilers star Connor McDavid.

McDavid and Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning jostled all evening long in a 6-5 Edmonton loss. McDavid denounced the tactics of his opponent after the game, claiming Manning intentionally injured him last season; McDavid missed 37 games with a broken collarbone.

"I guess we can put the whole 'if he did it' thing to rest because what he said out there kind of confirmed that," said McDavid, who taunted Manning after scoring the second goal in the Oilers' loss.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here, knows that I am not that kind of player," Manning said, according to a statement released by the Flyers. "I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that."

Gretzky didn't mind seeing that fire in McDavid, saying competitiveness is part of what makes the great ones great. And he said the targeting comes with the territory of being a superstar. It was something he and Mario Lemieux dealt with, too.

"And Connor, he's going to get tested every night, but this is not new for him," Gretzky said Friday at the NHL board of governors meetings. "He's been tested since he was a kid and then playing junior hockey and now in the NHL and he's always responded and done his part."