There's Nothing Better Than a Game Seven

There's Nothing Better Than a Game Seven

I clearly remember a Phillies game from September 23, 2005 when David Bell hit a go ahead two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning against the Reds in Cincinnati. They entered the inning trailing 10-6 and scored five in the ninth and hung on to win it 11-10.

What does a regular season baseball game from almost five years ago have to do with tonight's Flyers/Sabres Game Seven?

Well, when the ball Bell hit cleared the fence, I jumped out of my seat and started deliriously screaming to my future wife "THIS IS WHY I WATCH SPORTS! THIS IS WHY I WATCH SPORTS!" I couldn't contain myself. The payoff that moment provided made my investment in watching and caring about the team worthwhile. It was one of those rare instances where a game literally moved me.

Which then brings us to tonight. Game Seven.

It's cliche, but there is nothing like a playoff hockey Game 7. The animosity and hatred you develop for an opposing hockey team over a long series is unparalleled. I mentioned something similar in my ode to Sami Kapanen, but it never gets old.

I can't take Nathan Gerbe and his annoying tiny presence. I've had enough of Tyler Myers cross-checking guys after the whistle. I am done thinking of Toronto Raptor Andrea Bargnani every single time an announcer says Marc-Andre Gragnani.

Patrick Kaleta? Done with him. Rob Niedermayer inexplicably scoring goals? Done with it. Lindy Ruff's black tie on black shirt combo? Come on, man.

And you know what? I wouldn't trade that hate for anything. It's the best. It's the reason I tracked down my air card and convinced my wife to drive to dinner on Sunday so I could watch the NBC stream of the game on my laptop. In a moving car.

Every single thing is magnified in a Game 7. Every turnover, every failed clearing attempt, every questionable icing call, every faceoff, every line change. It all matters.

The Flyers have been playing hockey since 1967. They've played just 14 Game 7's. They're 8-6 in those games. Their two most recent Game 7's have been unforgettable. In the event you aren't already completely fired up for tonight here's some video to get your blood pumping.

First, here's Joffrey Lupul's Game 7 OT winner from the 2007-08 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Capitals. 

Take a look back at The700Level reactions to that one

Next, as if you needed any reminder, here's a recap of last season's Flyers/Bruins Game 7.

 

I am fortunate enough to have a ticket to the game, and will be experiencing my first Game 7 in person. Regardless of where you're watching the game tonight, take a second and appreciate that nervous, anxious, pit-in-the-bottom-of-your-stomach feeling.

It's Game Seven.

Photo Credit: Ed Hille/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Sixers name Elton Brand as Player Development Consultant

Elton Brand is back with the Sixers, albeit not on the court.

The Sixers agreed with the former NBA forward to name Brand Player Development Consultant. In a press release, the team said Brand will be working with Sixers players in 'every facet of their on- and off-court development' while also working in the front office.

“We are extremely excited to bring Elton Brand back into the organization where he will be a valuable resource to our young and developing team," Bryan Colangelo said in the release. "Elton’s leadership and character displayed throughout his playing career as a player align perfectly with our vision, direction and culture of this basketball team, coaching staff and management group."

Brand retired during training camp after 17 NBA seasons, including five with the Sixers over two stints. The 6-foot-8 forward came out of retirement last season to provide a veteran presence for the Sixers and eventually played in 17 games when the team was snakebitten by injuries. 

He will now continue to be an influence on the Sixers' young core thanks to his new role with the basketball operations department.

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova vs. La Salle: Wildcats look to stay hot vs. Explorers at Palestra

No. 1 Villanova (8-0) at La Salle (4-2) 
7 p.m. at The Palestra

Villanova, now the top-ranked team in the country, travels to the Palestra on Tuesday night for another Big 5 game, this one against La Salle (the home team), which has won three straight games.

Let's get you ready for the matchup:

Last time out
La Salle beat Bucknell, 83-73, on Saturday.

Villanova won, 88-47, over Saint Joseph’s.

Scouting report
Villanova, which is undefeated, has become the No. 1 team in the country after beating St. Joe’s handily on Saturday. Josh Hart, who had a triple-double in the game, has been a major reason for the Wildcats' success so far this season. The senior is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. 

La Salle has won three games in a row after losing at the buzzer to Texas Southern on its homecoming game. Against Bucknell, Jordan Price had 20 points, while B.J. Johnson had 22. Johnson, a transfer from Syracuse, leads the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game.

What it means
Villanova is the best in the country right now, and it moved up to No. 1 after Kentucky lost to UCLA. Another win will give the Wildcats good momentum heading into their Saturday matchup with No. 23 Notre Dame. A victory would also extend Villanova's all-time record Big 5 winning streak to 16 games.

La Salle head coach John Gianinni could potentially be on the hot seat if the Explorers suffer another poor season. A win against the defending national champions would alleviate any chatter about his status.

Series history
This is the first and only time the Big 5 rivals will meet this season. Jay Wright is 13-2 all-time against the Explorers, and his group blew them out last season, 76-47.

What’s next?
La Salle will head to Miami for the Hoophall Miami Invitational to take on Georgetown this Saturday at the American Airlines Arena.

Villanova travels to Newark, New Jersey, to meet No. 23 Notre Dame at the Prudential Center.