Easier Said Than Done: Sixers Visit Nets Before Week of Tough 'Uns

Easier Said Than Done: Sixers Visit Nets Before Week of Tough 'Uns

Looked ahead on the Sixers' schedule recently? The recent slate of relative creampuff games should have been a clue that a much harder run lied around the bend, and sure enough, we got a doozy of a week coming up--five games in eight nights, two on the road, all against teams .500 or better (Atlanta, Orlando, San Antonio and New York twice.) The stretch will make for a nice test of the Sixers' mettle at this stage in the season, no doubt, but it also might very easily make for a handful of losses as the Sixers' struggle to stay above water in the East playoff standings.

All the more reason, then, to get a win tonight against divisional foes New Jersey in the Garden State. Sounds easy, given that the Nets are a paltry 15-34 and apparently well out of the playoff picture, but when considering that the Nets are 12-11 at the Prudential Center (including five home W's in a row), and that Sixers-Nets games are NEVER easy, it might take a bit of focusing from the Liberty Ballers after all.

The Nets' recent home surge comes after the announcement from Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov that the Nets would be pulling out from trade talks with Denver for hopelessly indecisive superstar Carmelo Anthony, feeling that said talks were providing too much of a distraction. Looks like ol' Prokhy might've been onto something, as since then, the Nets have rolled off home wins against the Jazz, Pistons, Cavs, Grizzlies and most recently, those very Nuggets, ensuring that at the very least, '10-'11 will mark some kind of improvement over the end results of last year's 12-win squad.

Meanwhile, the Sixers must look to start getting their act together on the road. Last week's win in Toronto was encouraging, but it was against one of the worst teams in the East playing at 60% health. If the Sixers are really to demonstrate themselves a playoff-worthy bunch, they should be able to decisively prove themselves the better team against a Nets squad that, while hardly devoid of talent (resurgent point guard Devin Harris, low-post beast Brook Lopez, and of course the eternally-promising lottery pick Derrick Favors), is nonetheless surely lottery-bound this season.

7:00 tip from the Rock. (I still prefer calling it The Prude, ftr.) And overdue congrats to our man Jrue Holiday for making the Rookie-Sophomore Squad, the Sixers' lone representative at this year's All-Star Weekend, and a worthy one at that. Balls to whoever decided that the Clippers' Eric Bledsoe (6.2 ppg, 4.1 apg, 40% FG) was a worthier candidate for the Rookie team than Evan Turner, though. Make 'em pay for it tonight, ET--I feel a nine point, four rebound, two assist explosion coming on.

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video.