Cards Sweep Phils: That's Gotta Be It, Right?

Cards Sweep Phils: That's Gotta Be It, Right?

So the St. Louis Cardinals just won all three games of their home series against the Philadelphia Phillies, bringing the Fightins' post All-Star record to 1-5. That one win, the superfun 13-8 Mets blowout in Citi Field that wasn't even as close as the final score indicates, indeed feels very long ago now as the Phils have lost all five since, with only that first loss against NY even really being close. I'm pretty sure the Phils never led in this St. Louis series, though I'm too depressed to check the box scores again to verify. In any event, they never seemed like they were going to win, and only sporadically seemed like they might have a chance. Fun to watch, this week has not been.

The five straight L's drop the Phils to a lackluster 49-53. Because the Braves and Nats have been nearly as crappy since the break, Philly is still tied with the latter for second place and just eight behind the former, and still a within-reach-ish nine out of the Wild Card, with the Reds 14 games over .500 in third in the Central. However, the good times should continue to roll for the Phils through the weekend, as they travel to Detroit to face the AL Central-leading Tigers, whose run differential is currently +161 on the Fightins. Objects in the NL leaders' rearview mirrors may be further than they appear.

So...that's probably it for this bunch, right? The trade deadline is less than a week away, and if RubeJun was leaning towards selling already (careful on that bannister, RAJ!), it's hard to imagine the last few games made him re-evaluate the strength of his position much. Five days and change might not be enough to engineer a full-on fire sale, but a couple familiar names seem likely to be on the move--take your pick from Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Michael Young, Jimmy Rollins, and possibly even Cliff Lee and Chase Utley. Mailing addresses aplenty will soon need updating.

At the very least, it seems all but impossible that Ruben will deign to try to bolster this bunch at the expense of our already thin farm system--when you're four games under .500 and advanced stats say you should be way worse than even that, Alex Rios isn't going to be the difference-maker between playing in October and getting to work early on your Halloween costumes. And that's fine--I think most of us knew it was going to take a whole lot of luck for this team to even have a shot at making the playoffs, and if we were gonna be that lucky, we probably woulda knowed it by now. The '13 Phils are not exactly a squad that screams "Team of Destiny."

All that's left, then, is seeing whether Amaro opts for a second straight partial, bet-hedging rebuild, selling off Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz for scraps, or if he unloads completely, sending Chase and Cliff on their merry as well and maybe getting a blue-chipper or two in return. I'm still torn about what I want in that respect, but I do definitely know that I would like to never see Laynce Nix get two starts in a row for this team again--no amount of rebuilding should ever be able to justify that. Let's put that at the top of the To Do list, huh, RAJ? Just because we're bereaved doesn't make us saps.

Sixers-Wizards 5 things: Refresh and reset after trade deadline

Sixers-Wizards 5 things: Refresh and reset after trade deadline

The Sixers (21-35) return from the All-Star break against the Washington Wizards (34-21) at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Refresh and reset
The dust from the NBA trade deadline has settled and, as expected, the Sixers look a bit different. Perhaps what wasn’t expected: the pieces of the Sixers that changed.

Out are Ersan Ilyasova and Nerlens Noel. In are Justin Anderson, Tiago Splitter (injured all season, so not really), Andrew Bogut (buyout coming in …) and an array of draft picks.

You can argue for days about the long-term implications of the Sixers’ trades, but let’s focus on the here and now. The team lost a scoring punch in Ilyasova (14.8 points per game). However, Ilyasova’s offense has dipped drastically in recent games, which coincided with a strong push on that end by rookie Dario Saric (see story).

In Noel, the Sixers parted with a defensive presence and finisher at the rim. They’ll regain the defense in a different form with Anderson’s ability to lock down on swingmen (see story).

We’ve got 26 games to see how it plays out, starting with tonight against the Wizards.

2. Just kidding, Jah
It’s been an eventful few weeks for Jahlil Okafor to say the least.

The big man went from multiple DNP-CDs to back in the starting lineup to a reserve role and even sent home amid trade rumors. Okafor eventually rejoined the team as potential deals fizzled, but was still expected to be shipped at the deadline.

Then the deadline came and went with Okafor still on the roster.

With Noel traded and Joel Embiid still sidelined because of an injured knee (see story), Okafor should be in the starting lineup. That will give the second-year center the opportunity to improve on his 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds averages and perhaps improve on that once-high trade stock.

3. Can you Beal it?
John Wall gets the attention when it comes to the Wizards and rightfully so. The guard is a four-time All-Star and one of the best floor generals in the entire league.

However, the reason the Wiz have been able to rise to No. 3 in the Eastern Conference at this point is the play of Bradley Beal.

Beal has been on an absolute tear this season. The two-guard is averaging a career-high 22.2 points per game on 47.3 percent shooting from the field and 40.2 percent from three-point range. He’s also putting up 3.7 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game.

Any hope the Sixers have of knocking off the Wizards will have to start with an attempt to at least slow down Beal and Wall.

4. Injuries
Embiid (knee), Splitter (calf), Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

The Wizards have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost seven of the their last eight games against the Wizards.

• The Sixers weren’t the only team to pull off a deadline trade. The Wizards acquired Bojan Bogdanovic and Chris McCullough from the Brooklyn Nets.

• Okafor scored a season-high 26 points with nine rebounds in the Sixers’ last meeting with the Wizards, a 109-93 loss on Jan. 14.

• Wall has averaged 19.3 points, 9.0 assists and 5.2 rebounds agains the Sixers during his career.

Mike Budenholzer: Hawks 'feel really good' about addition of Ersan Ilyasova

Mike Budenholzer: Hawks 'feel really good' about addition of Ersan Ilyasova

ATLANTA -- Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer says newly acquired power forward Ersan Ilyasova was targeted as a player he saw as a good fit on Atlanta's front line.

The 6-foot-10 Ilyasova gives Atlanta a "stretch forward" who can make 3-pointers while playing behind All-Star Paul Millsap.

"To get somebody that we really targeted and wanted, we feel really good about that," Budenholzer said Thursday.

Budenholzer said matching center Dwight Howard's inside game with Ilyasova "who can stretch and hit the 3s, that is a good pairing."

Ilyasova is expected to join the team before the team plays Miami on Friday night.

Ilyasova was acquired from the Sixers on Wednesday night. The Sixers obtained injured center Tiago Splitter and a protected second-round draft pick from Atlanta, and have the right to swap another 2017 second-round pick with the Hawks.

Ilyasova, from Eskisehir, Turkey, has averaged 14.8 points while starting in 40 of 53 games this season.

"He's somebody that for some time all of us in the front office ... we all kind of watched and wanted him to be a part of the team," Budenholzer said. "I think he's a smart player, a competitive guy. He does a lot of little things. He has an edge to him. Obviously he can shoot."

The Hawks hope Ilyasova, 29, adds scoring punch as they attempt to improve their playoff position. They are fifth in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind Toronto.

"He can help our team a lot," Millsap said. "We can help ourselves a lot too. With both of those, I think we can move up to 2. I think we've got a chance. We've got enough games to do it."

Hawks guard Kent Bazemore said Ilyasova is "one of the best shooters in the game, I think, as far as playing the stretch 4 position."

"If there's one thing this team needs, I think, is a little more shooting and he can bring just that," Bazemore said.

The Hawks cleared a roster spot before Thursday's trade deadline by sending forward Mike Scott, the rights to Turkish guard Cenk Akyol and cash considerations to the Phoenix Suns for a top-55 protected 2017 second-round pick.

Scott averaged 7.1 points over five seasons with Atlanta but had seen a diminished role this season. He was averaging a career-low 2.5 points in only 18 games this season and was sent to the NBA Development League on three assignments.