Things are Gonna Get Easier: Sixers Head to Cleveland

Things are Gonna Get Easier: Sixers Head to Cleveland

4-3. Not bad for a seven-game death stretch, though not necessarily as
decisive as we would've hoped when the Sixers started the stretch 4-1.
Back-to-back tough losses against the Spurs and Clippers—one in which
the Sixers got legitimately outplayed, and one in which a bunch of crap
went wrong for both teams and the Sixers lost because Chris Paul might
be the deadliest player in the game with less than a minute left in
regulalation—make the seven-game set a slightly mixed bag, though on the
whole, you'd probably still have to consider it a victory for Philly.
They're still 18-9, third-best in the East—and tonight, they get to play
their first creampuff match in two weeks with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

All right, "creampuff" might be going a bit far. The Cavs are actually
having a surprisingly acceptable season this year, just two-and-a-half
games out of the playoffs with their 10-15 record, and just a couple
nights ago they even beat the Clippers, which by some transitive
mathematical properties might make them a better team than the Sixers,
technically. Of course, they've also lost to the Raptors, Warriors and
Nets, and they'll be missing both their likely Rookie of the Year point
guard Kyrie Irving and their MVP of the last few weeks, hustling big man
Anderson Varejao. After going against Tony Parker & Tim Duncan and
Chris Paul & Blake Griffin, somehow I doubt the Sixers are
particularly sweating Ramon Sessions & Antawn Jamison.

Nonetheless, the Sixers are somewhat untested on the road this year—5-4,
against 13-5 at home—and the post-LeBron Cavs took two games against
the Sixers last year, including one in Cleveland. With the Sixers
finally looking to spend some time away from the Wells Fargo Center—they
play seven of their next eight games on the road, after playing 17 of
22 at home—a decisive win against Cleveland would obviously be a great
way to kick off the next leg of the Sixers' season. (Hopefully this will
also be a chance for young bigs Nikola Vucevic and Lavoy Allen to put
up some numbers after getting shut down by the San Antonio and LA front
lines, while perhaps Coach Collins won't be as stingy as he has been
lately with Evan Turner's minutes.)

7:30 tip from Quicken Loans Arena. The loss to the Clips was the Sixers'
second in a row, their first losing streak longer than a game of the
entire season. Impressive that they held out this long, but neither we
nor the team want to see it happen again anytime soon—or worse, continue
tonight. “It’s disappointing to lose two straight at home," said Elton
Brand after the loss. “We’ve got to regroup, go on the road and keep
growing.” See you there, EB.

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The biggest sports story in town in the Sixers, winners of 4 of 5 and an exhilarating team on the floor, led by a superstar player who seems to actually get us as a fan base. And to think, all it took to bring us to this point was getting rid of Sam Hinkie.

Look at what a dark place the Sixers were in a year ago. They were in last place, with the league’s worst roster and no hope for the future except for a bunch of ill-defined future draft picks. And they were led by a general manager with absolutely zero interest in winning, explaining himself, or (worst of all) appearing on the WIP Morning Show. 

But now, there’s hope. Joel Embiid is the real deal. The supporting cast is rapidly improving, with guys like T.J. McConnell, Robert Covington and Dario Saric looking like valuable supporting players, and Ben Simmons joining them very soon. 

I know the Hinkie apologists are going to say these improvements are because of him and that he deserves credit -- please. To credit Hinkie with drafting Joel Embiid is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in all my years of watching Philadelphia sports. We all know Hinkie wanted Andrew Wiggins -- therefore, he gets no credit for drafting Embiid. And as Bob Brookover pointed out last week, Embiid is a Sixer because of luck.  

Ben Simmons, of course, was drafted by Bryan Colangelo, who also acquired the best Sixer since Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova. And if the two first-round picks next year turn out to be stars, Colangelo will get credit for those, too

Hinkie did things like draft three centers in a  row, take Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, trade valuable players like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels for nothing, and sign no veterans at all for three years. 

Joel Embiid is a winner, Sam Hinkie is a loser, and that’s all there is to it.  

In other Sixers news, it was nice to see Simmons warming up on the court last week against Boston- when Embiid did that, it meant he was 16-18 months away from returning to action. In the last two years, the Sixers lead the league in pre-game social media posts featuring players who aren’t active for that night’s game. 

And speaking of records, congrats to Nerlens Noel for breaking Shane Victorino’s longstanding local athlete record for use of “you know” in a single interview, when he talked to Woj last week

Other Philly sports takes: 

The Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday proves two things: Dak Prescott is a fraud, and the Cowboys were never very good anyway. The only reason they went 13-3 was the easy schedule. 

Can you believe Allen Iverson getting photographed in a Cowboys jersey? Doesn’t he know the rules? If you play in Philly, you must root for every one of the city’s teams, regardless of circumstance, for the rest of your life. 

Even so, shame on the Knicks’ Derrick Rose for no-showing a game. If you want to be a legendary NBA guard, you’re supposed to skip PRACTICES, not games. Not a game. 

Angelo made a good point: Embiid is so perfect as a Philadelphia athlete that it makes me notice how much Carson Wentz isn’t. Hunting trips? Shotgun gifts? Getting locked in a gas station bathroom? That’s just not cutting it. Carson, immediately, needs to start drinking Shirley Temples, imitating pro wrestler entrances, and insulting porn stars on Instagram, or else I fear he won’t last in this town. 

Another good column by Marcus Hayes -- the Eagles must sacrifice multiple draft picks to trade up for wide receiver Mike Williams. Whatever it takes. 

Come on Eagles- no room on the staff for either of Buddy’s sons? How about both? 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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AP Images

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.