Winning Games Again? Sixers in Brooklyn For Sunday Atlantic Battle

Winning Games Again? Sixers in Brooklyn For Sunday Atlantic Battle

Friday was the kind of day that turns around your entire feeling about a
team's season. Starting off with the good news—well, at least, the
not-explicitly-bad news—that Andrew Bynum was going to be ramping up his
activity level and beginning the long road back to recovery, the black
cloud seemingly lifted from the Sixers team, and with Jrue Holiday and
Evan Turner back from injury, the Sixers eviscerated the Hawks at home
in Lou Williams' comeback game at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was
an incredibly satisfying day of Sixers basketball, and it makes you
wonder if it's not too late for the Sixers to actually try to do some
winning in the 2012-13 NBA season.

After losing five games in a
row—none easy, but all winnable—you had to start thinking that if the
news with Bynum this week was more negative than positive, and if Evan
and Jrue were gonna take a little longer than expected getting back on
the floor, that maybe Philly would be looking forward to summer camp a
little early this year. But after a 19-point win like Friday's–against
the team with the third-best record in the East, with the Sixers' key
players all contributing and their bench players finally stepping up a
little as well—maybe it's not time to write the season off just yet.
Maybe, to quote a one-time friend of Philadelphia sports, we can build
on this.

If so, we gotta come correct today in Brooklyn. After a
hot start that had them looking like an elite team in the East, the
Nets have struggled mightily, losing eight of their last ten games and
seeing their leader and presumptive franchise player in Deron Williams
being questioned from all corners for his poor shooting and occasionally
primadonna-ish attitude. Even with their poor play of late, the Nets
are still a game up in the division on the Sixers, but somewhat
incredibly, the Sixers can leapfrog both them and the Celtics with a win
today and end up at 2nd in the Atlantic with their 14-14 record.

It
won't be easy. The Nets can kill the Sixers where it hurts them, up
front, with their seven-foot center Brook Lopez and resurgent power
forward Andray Blatche (not to mention our old buddy, Reggie "The
Rebounding-and-Nuts-Grabbing Machine" Evans). The Sixers are gonna need a
big game on both ends of the court from Lavoy Allen, and if Spencer
Hawes is gonna continue his solid play on offense (almost 15 points and
seven rebounds a game over his last eight, with over 50% shooting), he's
gonna have to find a way not to give it all back on the defensive end.

3:00 tip from Barclays. It's more fun when they win.

Former Phillies pitcher, Hall of Famer Jim Bunning dies at 85

Former Phillies pitcher, Hall of Famer Jim Bunning dies at 85

LOUISVILLE, Ky.-- Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, who pitched six seasons with the Phillies and went on to serve in Congress, has died. He was 85.

Bunning's death was confirmed by Jon Deuser, who served as chief of staff when Bunning was in the Senate. Deuser said he was notified about the death by Bunning's family.

Bunning won 224 games in a 17-year major-league career and pitched the first perfect game in modern National League history. It came with the Phillies on June 21, 1964.

He became the first pitcher after 1900 to throw no-hitters in both the American and National Leagues.

He belonged to a rare group of major league pitchers to throw a perfect game in the modern era.

A Kentucky Republican, he was the only member of the Baseball Hall of Fame to serve in Congress. He served in both the House and Senate.

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Today's Lineup: Cesar Hernandez (groin) returns

Cesar Hernandez returns to the Phillies' punchless lineup Saturday afternoon against the Reds (4 p.m./TCN).

Hernandez, who missed Friday night's 5-2 loss with a groin injury, is back at second base and leading off. Hernandez has led off in all 44 games he's started this season. The fifth-year pro has struggled after getting off to a torrid start. He's hitting just .185 (10 for 54) over his last 14 games.

After bouncing around the lineup, centerfielder Odubel Herrera returns to his customary spot in the two-hole. Herrera's season is a microcosm of the Phils' woeful offense. An All-Star in 2016, Herrera is hitting just .227 this season. Manager Pete Mackanin hopes the Venezuelan will hit his way out of it soon (see story).

Here is the rest of today's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Aaron Altherr, LF
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Michael Saunders, RF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P