SIXERS BACK, SIXERS BACK, ALL THESE BES SCREAMING THAT SIXERS BACK

SIXERS BACK, SIXERS BACK, ALL THESE BES SCREAMING THAT SIXERS BACK

What is going on with this professional basketball team. Just
when you think they're gonna zig, they zag, just when you think they've
got it figured out, they post a 12-point first quarter, and just when
you think they're gonna roll over, they get to the line a whole bunch of
times in the third quarter, start to gain some momentum, and complete
one of the most unlikely comebacks in an NBA post-season absolutely full
of them. Now all eyez are on the Celtics as they return to Boston,
still with the home-court advantage but missing out on a clear chance to
finish out the league's most perplexing bunch o' scrappers.

And once again, the comeback win was sealed by that clutchiest of clutch
clutchsters, Andre Iguodala. With the Sixers and Celtics tied at 83,
Iguodala scored five enormous answered points in the final 90 seconds of
this one to put the Sixers firmly in control of their own destiny.  All
of those memories of clanked jumpers, layup-drive no-calls, and general
late-game meltdowns are quickly fading to black as Andre Iguodala, Guy
You Can Count on To Do Shit starts getting chest-puffier with each
unlikely playoff victory.

First and foremost, the Sixers deserve salutations for powering through
one of the worst shooting nights in playoff history, courtesy of
second-year goofball Evan Turner. The box score says that he ended at
5-22, but we all know that he was actually 2-67 in this one, missing
from just about every possible spot on the court, on predominantly open
looks to boot. We generally love Evan here at the Level, and we're sure
he was just acting on Coach Collins' orders to "Be Aggressive, B-E
Aggressive," but hoooooly hell would it be nice if the Extraterrestrial
actually made some jumpers. (Turner did finish with 16 and 9, with only
one turnover in 36 minutes, so it wasn't all bad from ET.)

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, back to praise for Andre
Iguodala. Specifically, praise to him (and perhaps Coach Collins as
well) for figuring out a way to really help this team on
offense—spotting up in the corner for catch-and-shoot threes. 'Dre's
pull-up three game has never been phenomenal, but he's shown an aptitude
all year for connecting off the catch-and-shoot, helping to contribute
to his career-high 39% rate from deep this season. Tonight, he went
three for three on such shots, including the biggest shot of the night,
when he converted on a Lou Williams drive-and-kick from behind the arc
to put the Sixers up two possessions with less than a minute to go.

Speaking of Sour Patch Lou, it was easily the Sweetest game of the
post-season for our Sixth Man of the Year runner-up, as he scored 15
points on 5-11 shooting—including a stretch in the second quarter where
he elbowed the Ballers back into the game on a three and two straight
three-point plays—as well as handing out a team-high eight assists. I
give Lou a whole lot of crap on this website, and a lot of the time he
deserves it, but if he played more games like he did tonight—scoring,
but not forcing the issue, and making all the right passes—I wouldn't
even consider joining the monastery when we give him 5 years, $35
million in the off-season.

Besides 'Dre and Lou, the heroes of the game for the Sixers were the
closing frontcourt for the Sixers, Lavoy Allen and Thaddeus Young. Elton
Brand and Spencer Hawes were as miserable tonight as they have been all
series, combining for a mere five (FIVE!!) points tonight, but the
Sixers got energy, hustle, rebounding, and (by comparison anyway)
scoring from the Allen/Young duo, and Collins was wise to ride them down
the stretch, as they were able to hang and bang with Garnett, who was
finally kept in check tonight, scoring a mere nine points on 3-11
shooting (with seven turnovers!) as Lavoy & Thad combined for 20 and
19 rebounds. It'll be interesting to see if one or both of these guys
gets stuck in the starting lineup for Game Five, given how much more
effective they've been than the dinged-up Brand and the, uh, generally
deficient Hawes.

Of course, I'd be a little remiss if I didn't mention another MVP for
Philly tonight—our boys in black and white. The Sixers shot 36 free
throws to the Celtics' 19, many of which came in the second and third
quarters as it seemed like the Sixers were never going to hit another
field goal again. It felt like the Ballers were almost getting pity
calls for a while, with the C's getting clobbered on a couple layup
drives on their end while the whistles remained silent. It'll all
basically even out in time so I'm not gonna cry too foul (NPI) on it or
nothing, but it has to be mentioned in explaining how the Sixers were
able to win this game after starting out down 18-3 and still trailing
51-33 at half.

How else were they able to win this game? Well, we maybe never really
know for sure. It was a little like that Grizzlies-Clippers Game One
where you were watching it thinking "Hah, that's funny, the Sixers are
only down 14," "Hah, that's funny, the Sixers are only down eight,"
"Wait a minute...the Sixers are only down four?" "Did the Sixers just
take the lead?" "HOLY CRAP ARE THE SIXERS GOING TO WIN THIS GAME??" It
was like a Robb Stark sneak attack—by the time that the Celtics (or
anyone else) know what was happening, it had already happened. And
really, how can we be surprised by anything this team does at this
point? What a weird post-season.

Game Five from Boston this Monday. Who knows what other crazy twists and
turns this post-season takes from here? Dunno, but hope they don't
involve anymore 2-67 shooting nights from Evan Turner. They give me the
saddies.

Sixers-Warriors 5 things: At home, can Sixers hang with NBA's best again?

Sixers-Warriors 5 things: At home, can Sixers hang with NBA's best again?

The Sixers (22-36) host the NBA-best Golden State Warriors (49-9) at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let's take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Bummer at the buzzer
Apparently one good last-second shot deserves another.

The Sixers stormed back from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks on Saturday. Jahlil Okafor capped off his monster night with what appeared to be the game-winner at the time when he scored in the lane with nine seconds remaining.

That was until Carmelo Anthony drained a clutch jumper over Robert Covington with 0.3 ticks left on the clock to give the Knicks a 110-109 victory. Call it payback for T.J. McConnell's buzzer-beater against New York last month.

While the Sixers didn't get the win, they had to be pleased with some of the efforts they received on the second night of a back-to-back set. 

Okafor finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Covington had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Dario Saric added 19 points and 15 boards.

2. So much splashing
The Sixers will need those type of performances and then some if they hope to keep up with this potent Warriors team.

In case you've been lost at sea since the summer, former league MVP Kevin Durant bolted Oklahoma City for Golden State in free agency to turn the "Splash Brothers" of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson into an entire splash family.

Already dominant offensively, the Warriors have been even better this season with Durant. They rank No. 1 in a slew of offensive categories, including points per game (118.2), field goal percentage (50.0), assists per game (31.0), fastbreak points per game (23.5), offensive rating (114.1) and true shooting percentage (60.4).

If that weren't enough, Durant's length has also impacted the Warriors' defense too. They are first in the league in steals (9.6), blocks (6.7) and points off turnovers (19.2) per game.

Simply put, the Warriors are scary good. 

3. The wild card
Every family has that one person that you're just not sure about at times. They can make gatherings the best night ever or a downright miserable experience.

Enter Draymond Green. 

Green has been on the miserable side of the Warriors' gatherings lately. He shot 1 of 10 for five points and was benched for long stretches in Golden State's win over Brooklyn on Saturday. In the game prior to that against the L.A. Clippers, he picked up a technical foul, trash talked Paul Pierce and went to his preferred kick move on Blake Griffin.

Overall, Green has been his usual solid self on the court. He's averaging 10.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists a night while providing lockdown defense.

The Sixers are fully aware of Green's versatility. The veteran forward averaged a triple-double against them in the two meetings last season with 11.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists.

It will be interesting to see Green lock horns all game with the surging Saric.

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

The Warriors have no players listed on the injury report.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost six straight games to the Warriors.

• With their 112-95 win over the Nets on Saturday, the Warriors became the first team to clinch a playoff berth. It marked the earliest a team has clinched a postseason spot since the 1985-86 Boston Celtics.

• Covington is averaging 17.0 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in February.

• Thompson averaged 36.0 points on 54.7 percent shooting from the field and 45.8 percent from three-point range against the Sixers last season.

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

Brandon Manning suspended 2 games for hit on Penguins' Jake Guentzel

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning was suspended two games for his illegal hit to Pittsburgh's Jake Guentzel during Saturday's 4-2 loss in the Stadium Series game at Heinz Field.
 
Manning's shoulder made contact with Guentzel's head.
 
Manning wasn't surprised and even admitted to reporters that he fully expected "one or two" games because he hit a player who didn't have control of the puck yet.
 
Strangely, there was no penalty on the play for interference, yet the NHL's explanation on Monday afternoon specifically cited "interference" as the reason for the suspension.
 
This is Manning's first NHL suspension.
 
The hearing was conducted on the phone Monday with Stephane Quintal, senior vice-president of NHL Player Safety. Manning will forfeit $10,833.34 in salary.
 
"It was late," Manning said of the hit. "He didn't touch the puck after it hit his skate. Which I thought he was going to do. They do their whole breakdown by time frame."
 
Manning said he caught Guentzel's shoulder first, then his head "on the follow through" because Guentzel is shorter than him.  The 6-foot-1 Manning has two inches on Guentzel.
 
Guentzel, who had two assists in the game, was not injured.
 
"Looking at it, [the hit] is a little late," Manning admitted. "I thought he was going to touch the puck. Usually, when a puck hits your skate, you pick it up, and he kinda left it ... The hard part is, there was no penalty called on it."
 
Manning said he had to make a hit or face an odd-man rush.
 
"There were two players there and if I don't play my guy there, it’s a 3-on-1 the other way," he said. "You're giving up scoring chances. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. He finished the game and that's always the good thing."
 
Mark Streit, sitting on the bench at the time, said he saw the hit and was shocked at the suspension.
 
"It was a great hit," Streit said. "You look at the replay and everything looks different. You can slow down every hit and talk about it. I guess it was a little late …"
 
Manning's suspension likely means Michael Del Zotto will play against Colorado on Tuesday.
 
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said Manning has been a "solid piece" for the club this season.
 
"He brings that physical edge, he's been reliable, and he's been a staple for our lineup," Hakstol said. "That's a hole we'll have to fill over next couple of games here."
 
Manning will also miss Thursday's game against Florida.