The Center Can Not Hold: Under-Bigged Sixers Take on Wizards at Home

The Center Can Not Hold: Under-Bigged Sixers Take on Wizards at Home

Ugh. After getting blown out in Miami by a Heat team that couldn't miss a
shot if they wanted to (the night before laying just 82 on the Bucks—I
repeat, ugh), the Sixers should have been in for a nice little ego boost
at home tonight against the Wizards, who the Sixers have handily
dispatched twice already this season (and four times total if you count
pre-season). But not so fast, Rodriguez—the Ballers, already undersized
as is, will be desperately lacking in the big man department, with top
two centers Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic out with injuries. OK, so
they'll just go small with Elton Brand at the center for most of the
game, right? Maybe not, since our starting power forward is suffering
from gastroenteritis and missed practice this morning, though he's at
the arena and it does look like he'll at least try to play.

I repeat: UGH.

Anyway, it could be worse—the Sixers are entering their easiest stretch
of the season coming up, with home games against the Wiz, the Bobcats,
the Pistons and the Nets (the four worst teams record-wise and
otherwise-wise in the East right now), and even an undermanned Sixers
squad should be able to take care of business in most of those games.
But with an absolutely brutal stretch coming up aftewards—I won't go
into the teams just yet, but trust me, it's not pretty—we need to be
stockpiling all our easy Ws for the winter, while we can. If we lose one
or more of these games because JaVale McGee, Boris Diaw and Greg Monroe
prove unstoppable inside, it may really come back to bite us down the
line when we're fighting for seeding (and possibly—gasp!—home court
advantage) in the post-season.

What's more, the Wizards have actually been playing half-decently of
late. They pulled the upset win of the year when they beat Oklahoma City
at home for their second win, and stayed in games against the
far-superior Nuggets and the should-be-far-superior Celtics until the
very end. The main reason for the improved play is the
better-late-than-never surge from sophomore player John Wall, who's
averaging 25.8 points, 8.3 assists and 8.0 rebounds over his last four
games. (Shooting numbers aren't great, but he's getting to the line like
a beast, with over 11 FTs attempted a game over that span.) But of
course, as much a concern as a hot Wall for the Sixers is previously the
mentioned center McGee, who torched Philly for 23 and 18 last time out,
and should be smacking his lips at the opportunity to go against a
Thad/Elton/Tony front line tonight.

7:00 tip from the WFC. By the way, the loss in Miami wasn't entirely
without positives. Evan Turner was looking sharp again, and played maybe
his best all-around quarter of basketball of the year in the second,
scoring double-digits before the half and ending with 16 points, six
boards and four assists. The team hung tough for three quarters, with
Vucevic in particular providing an unexpected spark with his 13 and 9,
until the big man went down with his strained knee and left us reliant
on the Battie/Brand/Lavoy Allen combo in the middle. The Heat pulled
away in the fourth, and proved once again that when LeBron is passing
and their other guys are making shots, they are not in the slightest way
beatable. Let's pray that if we have to face them again in the
playoffs, it's not until as late a round as humanly possible.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.