Things to Watch: Sixers vs Celtics Part Two

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

After a matchup that would go down to the wire on Wednesday, the Sixers and Celtics will face off again in this 'series' finale. Now that they have faced off once, it will interesting to see what kinds of adjustments are made for the second matchup.

Here are three things to watch as these teams get set to face off for the second time.

Limiting the supporting cast 

It has been reported that Celtics' All-Star Jayson Tatum will not be making the trip to play in this game. Boston will still have Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker to lead the charge, but the Sixers need to focus on limiting the supporting cast.

Guys like Brown and Walker are All-Star level talents, we know they are going to go out and get their numbers. This is why if the Sixers want to walk away with another win, they need to focus on shutting down the players around them.

Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis both scored over 20 points in the first matchup on Wednesday. Those scoring outbursts helped keep Boston in the game, and need to be addressed the second time around.

The Sixers defense was sloppy at times early but stepped it up late in the game. Now that they have seen what Boston is going to throw at them, the defense should have an easier time containing them for all four quarters.

Getting to the line 

The biggest disparity between these teams on Wednesday was their amount of free-throws. Joel Embiid alone would attempt more shots at the line than the Celtics team as a whole. The Sixers' ability to draw contact and get to the line played a big part in their victory and is something they need to continue in game two.

Part of the reason Embiid and the Sixers got to the line so much was because of their size advantage. Boston does not have the size to counter bigger players like Embiid and Simmons they were forced to play more physical. The two need to continue to show a willingness to get to the line and keep taking advantage of their size.

As a whole, the Sixers would shoot double the amount of free-throws than the Celtics. If the Sixers can get to the line at the volume again and get Boston in foul trouble, it should lead to a second straight victory.

Joel Embiid making adjustments 

Joel Embiid was without a doubt the biggest factor in the Sixers' victory on Wednesday. He would erupt for 42 points and 10 rebounds, continuing his early MVP campaign. 

Now that Brad Stevens has had the chance to try and defend Embiid, he will likely attempt a different approach in the second matchup. How Embiid adapts to whatever is thrown at him will be something major to focus on. 

The most obvious difference will likely be the number of double teams thrown at Embiid. Their lack of size will force them to throw more bodies at the All-Star center if they want to slow him down. If Embiid can continue to be a strong passer when doubled and make passes like the cross-court one he made to Danny Green on Wednesday, he should be just fine. 

It's no secret that the Sixers are going to need another strong performance from Embiid if they want to sweep this 'series.' This game will be a good test for Embiid, as it is the first time a top-level team and coach will have the chance to change their plan of attack from game to game. Situations like this are great preparation for the postseason. 

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Flyers 5: Takeaways from Thursday’s Flyers-Bruins Game

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers played the first half of Thursday’s game against the Bruins in similar fashion to Monday’s blowout loss to Buffalo. A sharper Carter Hart was the difference in the game to that point, piling up the saves and making difficult ones look easy as the game remained scoreless.

As the period progressed, the Flyers got better and used that to get two goals to take a 2-0 lead to the third. It looked like it was all coming together for the Flyers to weather another storm.

Then the first three minutes of the third period happened. The Flyers were right back to where they were at the start of the game, and the Bruins were breaking through. Just when it appeared the dust settled and the Flyers were back in the lead again, a power play turned the tide again for the Bruins.

The Flyers managed to get a point in Thursday’s game with a late power-play goal that tied things up and forced overtime and the eventual shootout, but it is a relatively lucky point for the Flyers to earn, given how the game played out. It could have easily been two points...and it could have easily been no points.

Here are five takeaways from Thursday’s shootout loss for the Flyers.

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Flyers Lose Lead, Fall to Bruins in Shootout

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For two periods, the Flyers had the game in their control. They were getting stellar play from Carter Hart, struck for two goals in the second period, and appeared to be getting better as the game went on.

They gave all of that back in a span of 2:06. Two Bruins goals tied the game early in the third, starting a frantic back-and-forth scoring barrage. Ultimately, the game was capped off with a shootout, and the Flyers couldn't find a way to score while the Bruins got the only goal necessary, winning the game, 5-4.

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Strange Realmuto Rumors Emerge as Phillies Hope to #SignJT

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With pitchers and catchers heading to Clearwater in just under a month, the Phillies still have some work to do.  Their pitching could use some upgrades, and there is still some free agent inventory both in starting pitchers and relief pitchers that could be of interest to the Phillies.    And of course their catching remains unresolved as free agent catcher J.T. Realmuto has not signed with the Phillies or anyone else.  But after George Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, seemingly taking them out of the running for Realmuto, the industry speculation was that the Phillies and Realmuto were a lock to reunite.  But Thursday, some interesting trade rumors emerged to suggest other teams might be involved.

 The first rumor comes from Robert Murray, formerly of the Athletic:

The Braves?

The Braves appear to be set at the catching position, with Travis d'Arnaud, set to earn $8 million this season.  Would the Braves have any extra money available to spend on Realmuto?  The short answer is "probably not".

MLB Trade Rumors suggests that if Realmuto decided to go for a large one-year deal than he might be willing to go to the Braves.  But the Phillies probably wish they could be so lucky to have a one-year commitment to Realmuto.  Given the uneasy nature of catcher health, Realmuto may not wish to pursue that.

"Other teams on the west coast?"   The Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are the ones with money.  But the Dodgers have a potential perennial All-Star catcher in Will Smith and the Angels recently signed Kurt Suzuki.  It's not that Realmuto wouldn't be a substantial upgrade, but that could be a sign that the Angels prefer to focus on Trevor Bauer with their money.

Jim Bowden of Sirius XM suggested that maybe Realmuto will want to push six years as D.J. LeMahieu and George Springer recently got.  But the LeMahieu deal was a five-year deal with a superfluous year 

Can an agent get other teams to kick the Realmuto tires by saying that his price could come down?  That would be easy.  But the Phillies still seem to stand apart.


Eagles Find Their Head Coach

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

After a week of Josh McDaniels is the guy talk, the Eagles have found their guy.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the team will be hiring Colts OC Nick Sirianni to be their head caoch instead.

having served as Frank Reich's offensive coordinator for the past few years, his offense has been in the top 10 twice (2018 and 2020) in both yards and points per game, with the one down year (2019) being the season that Andrew Luck retired suddenly during the preseason games. The team still managed to be in the top half of the league in 2019 despite the QBs sudden departure leaving the team without a plan.

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