Nothing Left to Say: Flyers Lose Again, Likely Sealing Their Fate Finally

Nothing Left to Say: Flyers Lose Again, Likely Sealing Their Fate Finally





Time and time again this season the Flyers were welcomed
back into the playoff mix with open arms by their Eastern Conference rivals when
all hope appeared lost, and hey, the Orange & Black even responded on
occasion. More often they did not however, and following a third consecutive
loss to an opponent ahead of them in the standings on Thursday, with eight
games remaining it finally feels safe to say Philadelphia will miss out on
Stanley Cup fever for the first time since 2007.

The Ottawa Senators limited the Flyers opportunities through
the first two periods, and despite some good chances over the final 20 minutes,
the good guys were held to a single goal for the third outing in a row.
Meanwhile, the usual defensive breakdowns led to a pair of breakaway markers at
the other end, while the Sens added the exclamation point with an empty-netter
as the final seconds wore down to complete the 3-1 victory. It was the second
time in three tilts Philly lost to a team amid a five-game pointless streak.

To put where they’re at in the standings in perspective,
even if the Flyers somehow collected all 16 points possible from their
remaining schedule, the New York Rangers – currently situated in the eighth
seed – would still need only nine to beat them out for the final spot. Seeing
as the good guys have won more than two straight only once all season, and even
those four games are now sandwiched by losing streaks, it’s not a very likely
scenario to say the least.

If we’re being honest, it shouldn’t come as all that large a
surprise. The team started slow, never truly heated up, at times hardly showed
a pulse, and has generally had problems at every end of the ice. The fact that
the Flyers were in it for as long as they were was more a testament to a
condensed schedule and a top-heavy conference than of their own merit. But then
it’s still sort of a shock, because the minimum expectation for the club this
year had to be some level of postseason play.

It’s going to be a long offseason, one with plenty of finger
pointing for sure, because there is plenty of blame to go around. Of course, we’ve
been stuck at that stage of grief for awhile, so what else is there left to say

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Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Sixers-Thunder 10 observations: Joel Embiid electrifies in debut

Joel Embiid and Dario Saric playing in a regular-season game for the Sixers? Check.

Russell Westbrook being, well, Russell Westbrook? Check.

An overzealous fan giving Westbrook a crude salute and getting tossed from the arena? Yeah, check that one off too.

The Sixers' tight 103-97 loss to the Thunder in Wednesday night's season opener at the Wells Fargo Center had a little bit of everything (see Instant Replay).

Let's take a closer look at the action with 10 observations.

1. Embiid is already a rock star among Sixers fans thanks to his personality and social media antics, but if his game ever matches his fame, look out. When he caught the ball at the free throw line during the first quarter and did a mini "Dream Shake" to bury a jumper for his first NBA points and then followed it up on the other end with a massive swat of a Westbrook layup attempt, he gave the crowd an in impressive glimpse of his vast potential. He was even showered with “Trust the Process” chants when he stepped to the free throw line during the second half. Embiid finished the game with 20 points on 6 of 16 shooting and seven rebounds along with two blocks.

2. That's not to say the big fella was without his faults. After spending two years on the sidelines, Embiid was understandably amped up and tried to do too much at times on both offense (held the ball too much, four turnovers) and defense (over-helping on rotations, which left the paint open). Like anything involving Embiid, it's a process.

3. Note to fans: Westbrook is already a supremely focused and competitive player. He doesn't need any help to get going. However, one Sixers fan took it upon himself to rev up the Thunder's All-Star point guard with a special salute in the first quarter before being promptly ejected (see story). No wonder Westbrook scored 12 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter and finished just one assist shy of a triple-double.

4. Saric didn’t have a great shooting night (2 of 12 from the field for five points), but he still looked relatively solid in the victory. The Croatian showcased the versatility that had the Sixers salivating over him for the past two years, including a number of pump/head fakes to get defenders off balance before he missed the ensuing shot. He was overmatched inside when OKC went to its super-sized lineup with mustache afficionados Steven Adams and Enes Kanter (combined 33 points and 17 rebounds) down low. But that’s more on Brett Brown leaving the rookie out to dry than Saric’s ability.

5. Speaking of Brown, I’m not sure if the Sixers will ever value possessions like they should under a head coach with his Spurs pedigree. However, just 14 for a squad that has finished 30th, 30th and 29th in that category during Brown's first three years at the helm is definitely a step in the right direction.

6. Surgery for a meniscus tear didn’t do anything to hamper Jahlil Okafor’s post moves. The second-year big man looked spry after playing in just one preseason game before the opener. His shot was a tad rusty (4 of 10), but Okafor managed eight points in 16 minutes.

7. I’ve been critical of the Sixers’ defense over the years mainly because … it was non-existent. That wasn’t the case Wednesday until the fourth quarter. They were outscored, 34-22, in the final period. For the most part, the Sixers closed out to shooters and rotated with purpose on the defensive end of the floor. They held the Thunder to 41.5 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from three-point range. Not bad when the “crown jewel” of the D in Embiid was limited to 22 minutes.

8. Jerryd Bayless might want to hurry back from that wrist injury. Sergio Rodriguez had the ball on a string all night long for the Sixers. The point guard had 12 points to go along with nine assists, zero turnovers and countless dribble moves that left Thunder defenders grasping at air. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played an NBA game since 2010.

9. Sauce Castillo lives! OK, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but Nik Stauskas was excellent. He was decisive with his movements and got himself going by driving to the rim. The guard posted 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting off the bench. Perhaps coming into a season without the pressure of having to live up to being the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft and playing with close friend T.J. McConnell are what the third-year player needed.

10. Wednesday’s game was a thriller down to the end, but you can’t help but feel that some of the extra juice that would have been in the building for No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons was missing. Instead of suiting up, Simmons held a press conference to discuss his health after foot surgery (see story).