Revenge Game, Why Not: Sixers Host Bulls in 121212 Matchup

Revenge Game, Why Not: Sixers Host Bulls in 121212 Matchup

Are the Sixers really in second in this stupid division? With the
Celtics still struggling to gain consistency, the Nets in free fall
(Brook Lopez—who knew?) and the Raptors looking a loss away from trading
or amnestying their entire team, the Sixers are now the runners-up in
the Atlantic with their 12-9 record. They're still four games behind the
Knicks, who look on their way to cruising to the Division title—though
so did Philly at this time last year, and we remember how that ended up
emphatically not happening.

Anyway, to stay in that cushy #2
spot—5th in the entire conference, by the by—they'd do well to win
tonight against the Bulls. You can call the contest a revenge game for
the Liberty Ballers if you're so inclined, as the Sixers suffered a
tough loss in Chicago just a couple weeks back, on the backs of a couple
really tough Luol Deng makes in the fourth quarter and an open Evan
Turner three that wouldn't go down. The Sixers got their biggest win of
the season last year against this Chicago team around this time last
year (though they still had MVP point guard Derrick Rose in tow back
then), a win tonight would be similarly big in keeping the Sixers afloat
before they embark upon their road-heavy schedule for the second half
of the month.

Getting something out of our subs would be nice.
Spencer Hawes has stepped up his offensive efforts a bit lately, though
he's still a ways off where he was at the beginning of the year, when he
was draining jumpers and blocking shots with impunity, but the rest of
the bench has been beyond miserable. Nick Young has been slow returning
from toe injury, Dorell Wright can't seem to make anything inside the
arc, and Malik Wayns and Arnett Moultrie can't seem to make anything
period. It's hard to imagine who among his reserves Coach Collins has
any kind of faith in at this point, and he can only rock with Jrue, Evan
and Thad for so long a game before wearing them out or needlessly
exposing them to injury possibility.

7:30 tip from the WFC. Every game is a brand new chance to turn things around, and not have to play Damien Wilkins ever again.


Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.