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Fear the Deer: Sixers lose to Bucks with 8 minute scoring drought in the 4th.

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At the beginning of last season, the Sixers and the Bucks were perceived as two teams moving in opposite directions. The Sixers had just traded their franchise point guard Jrue Holiday, drafted McDubs and Nerlens, and signaled the onset of an epic tank job. The Bucks, coming off a 8th seed appearance in the playoffs, were full on “Fear the Deer” and had a hungry look in their eyes with the buffet that is the weak eastern conference laid out in front of them.

 Funny how basketball works. A bad Larry Sanders night club moment and one fat OJ Mustmayostardayonaisse, and the Sixers, trying to lose as many games as they could, still couldn’t lose as many games as the Bucks accidentally did. Neither team changed their stripes in the draft though, as the Bucks took the most NBA ready player in Jabari Parker with an eye towards a return to respectability, while the Sixers took another red shirt player in Joel Embiid, content to tank another season and continue to collect assets.

 Hard to say whose strategy is working better, but on this night the Bucks took advantage of an 8 minute, 0-14 drought from the 76ers coming down the stretch to win 93-81. Malik Rose proved prophetic early in the game, remarking “He was OJ Extra Mayo last year, but now he’s OJ Light Mayo this year.” A noticeably skinnier OJ Mayo was the difference maker tonight, scoring 25 points and hitting a couple back breaking threes during that horrible Sixers drought. Hollis Thompson led the Sixers with 15 pts, while Tony Wroten had 14 pts but also more TOs (8) than assists (6).

 Just like the Bucks, the Sixers are mainly looking towards the future, and the future is now for Nerlens Noel. Noel had a nice game tonight, logging his first NBA double-double with 14pts, 10rebs, and 3 blocks. The first Bucks possession of the game was a microcosm of the good and bad on Noel. He bit badly on a pump fake from Larry Sanders, something he did with concerning frequency in the opener against Indiana on Wednesday. Nerlens needs to (and likely will) learn with time when to use his athleticism, and when to rein it in. However this possession ended in a block because Nerlens’ second jump after biting on the pump fake was so fast, he still got the rejection on Sanders. Dude is ATHLETIC. The Sixers switched a lot on pick and rolls with Nerlens, and not surprisingly so because he guarded everyone from Larry Sanders to Jabari Parker to Jared Dudley to Brandon Knight with decent efficiency. While Nerlens struggled with a plodding big man like Roy Hibbert on Wednesday, against a team like the Bucks who have more young, light, fast players, Nerlens seemed in his element. His length and ability to alter shots and clog passing lanes was evident tonight, and Sixers fans can leave tonight’s game feeling better about Noel than after Wednesday’s game.

 Another bright spot was KJ McDaniels, who coming off the bench scored 12pts on a variety of 3s, put back dunks, and alley-oops. Oddly though, McDaniels scored those 12 pts in a paltry 13 minutes as Brett Brown stuck with the starters and Luc Mbah a Moute, recently returned from a trip to Cameroon to mourn the death of Joel Embiid’s brother. Brown said in his postgame presser that KJ didn’t play more because of a hip injury, although he was vague on the details. The Sixers are going to need more minutes from KJ, given his defensive presence (a league leader in blocks in the preseason) and 3pt shooting.

Ultimately this was a pretty exciting, close game that turned on the Sixers FG drought to end the game. Brown said afterward that the Sixers just don’t have a go-to scorer to break them out of a drought like that, and that’s especially true while McDubs is out. It’s possible at this point that the Sixers still don’t have a go-to scorere on the roster, period. But that’s what this period of tanking and self-exploration is about, to learn what we do and don’t have.

As of right now, we have some long athletic players who hustle and play defense. But we have very little offense and an 0-2 record.


Morning After: Lightning strikes in costly penalty

There were no penalties called in the first period. In the second, nine were called between the two teams.

But it was a late third-period penalty for too-many-men that proved most costly to the Flyers. Ironically, it was also one of the few that they agreed with following a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

"We’ve been a disciplined team all year and all of a sudden we’re undisciplined tonight?" head coach Craig Berube said. "I’ll give them too many men on the ice. That was the one good one they called."

Continue reading "Morning After: Lightning strikes in costly penalty" »


Around the NHL: Banged up Blues, Moore suspension, Gordie

 

 

As if losing prized free agent Paul Stasny to a shoulder injury wasn't enough, the St. Louis Blues found out two more of their top forwards will be joining him on the injury report. Capatain David Backes and T.J Oshie both suffered concussions in Tuesday's game against the Stars.

Backes played a shade right around four four minutes when he collided with Trevor Daly.  As the two collided, Backes got turned around and smacked his head on the ice.  He was taken back to the room and did not return.  There is no timetable as of yet for his return.

Oshie also suffered a concussion that night as his head came in contact with the goal post.  The shootout wizard was hit from behind in the crease. He was evaluated but returned to play over 20 minutes of game time only to be shut down afterwards.

The New York Rangers will be without defensemen John Moore for five games.  Moore was suspended by the leagues department of player safety for a hit to the head of Minnesota forward Erik Haula.  this marks the second time Moore has been suspended by the league.

The league stated, although Haula was elgible to be hit on the play, it was Moore who was at fault for the hit to the head.  Moore had the dreaded in person hearing Wednesday afternoon.  Based on the severity of the hit and the fact that Moore is a repeat offender the league handed down the five game ban.

The entire Flyerdelphia family sends it's thoughts and prayers to Mr. Hockey and the entire Howe family. As most of you know Gordie Howe suffered what was classified as a significant stroke this week.  Intial reports seemed bleak but since Wednesday there have been reports the Hall of Famer is making some progress in his recovery.  

Howe's son, former Flyer defensemen and Hall of Famer himself, Mark released a statement the other day. He said his father has had a few mini strokes over the summer and doctors had warned the family the mini strokes would get worse.

While Gordie has a long way to go if he is to recover, Mark believes his dad could do it. "We're keeping our fingers crossed. If anybody can recover, I know Dad can". Good luck Gordie.

There were a few milestones reached last night. Penguins forward Evegni Malkin recorded his 400th career assist in the Pens 3-0 victory over the Kings.  Marian Hossa recorded his 1,000th point in Chicago's 5-4 shootout win in Ottawa.

Points Leaders through 10/30/14

Goals - Perry 9

Assists - Voracek 12

Points - Seguin, Crosby, Voracek 15

Bill Minchin is a contributiong writer for Flyerdelphia. Fllow Bill on twitter @wtfd103074


Larry Brown "Sick to Stomach" Over State of Sixers

While many fans seem to be okay with the Sixers plan for the future, former coach Larry Brown does not approve. Having brought the Sixers to the NBA Finals in 2001 and helping Allen Iverson grow into an absolute superstar, Brown knows what he is talking about and wasn't shy in expressing his opinion on the Sixers rebuild with John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"I hate what's going on in Philly," the Hall of Fame coach said Wednesday. "They don't have a basketball person in the organization. It makes me sick to my stomach."

Currently coaching basketball at Southern Methodist, Brown had a nice run in the NBA, coaching a record nine NBA teams and leading eight of them to the postseason. He coached the Sixers from 1997-2003. Brown thinks very highly of current coach Brett Brown, but said he wouldn't be able to coach the team in this situation, where losing isn't a big deal.

"No, I wouldn't do it. We wouldn't lose. Brett can coach, he's one of Pop's guys," Brown said, referring to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. "But what they are doing to that city to me is mind-boggling. That's the greatest basketball city in the world with its fans and you want them to sit back and watch you lose.

"Can you imagine telling Allen Iverson that this is a rebuilding season so we're going to be bad on purpose?" Brown continued. "I love [Nerlens] Noel, I love Joel [Embiid]. But you can't put that stuff into them. Again, it boggles my mind. I understand you have to get assets to get better. You get assets by developing young players, draft picks, and moving contracts. But how much teaching is going on?"

Before the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Sixers owner Josh Harris cleaned house and Brought in Sam Hinkie, who had been the assistant general manager in Houston with the Rockets. Harris was impressed with Sam's focus on advanced basketball analytics and thought he would be the right guy to help rebuild this team. The Sixers only won 19 games last season, second worst in the NBA, but have some young talent in the making with the recent debut of Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams and most recent top pick, Joel Embiid, who will miss likely the entire year with a broken foot. Though the potential for talent is there, Larry Brown isn't a fan of the analytics game by any means.

"These analytics, they don't mean squat to me," Brown said. "Throw it up against the wall and see if it sticks. To say that these analytics guys have the answer is crazy. It doesn't apply to basketball. Everybody uses the data you get, but that's what coaching is. Maybe it will work, I don't know. But it's a shame what those fans are going through waiting to see if it will."

Brown also had a back and forth with Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil, who took jabs at Brown's team at SMU. Larry responded to those comments in an interview with CSNPhilly.com's Neil Hartman. Those comments can be found hereincluding Brown's thoughts on not being invited to Allen Iverson's retirement ceremony.

The state of the Sixers isn't pretty by any means. It seems as if the fans that still admit to being fans are okay with the direction of Sam Hinkie because it is a plan to build something that can last. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, but all we know is that the coach that last brought the Sixers to the NBA Finals doesn't think the "best fans in basketball" deserve this.

 Brandon Apter is a writer for Sixerdelphia.com


Flyers sign defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo

The Flyers announced the signing of defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo following Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Colaiacovo, 31, played for the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14, scoring one goal and adding three assists in 25 games.

The veteran defenseman has spent his 11 seasons in the NHL playing for the Blues, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. In his career, he has scored 31 goals and added 113 assists for 144 points in 401 career games.

Injuries have hampered his career, but Colaiacovo was a first-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs, selected 17th overall in 2001.

Colaiacovo isn't likely to arrive in time for the Flyers game on Saturday against the Florida Panthers. He will likely be added to the roster for Tuesday's home game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.


Stamkos, penalties halt Flyers win streak at three

After a penalty free first stanza from both teams, it was a revolving door to the box.  The Flyers went 0 for 2 with the man advantage.  Tampa went 2 for 5 on the powerplay.  Steven Stamkos scored two goals and added an assist on what was the eventual game winner and the Flyers fell to the Lightning 4-3 in Tampa on Thursday night.

Continue reading "Stamkos, penalties halt Flyers win streak at three" »


The Day After with Apter - Reaction to Sixers Opener

Last night, the Sixers opened their season in Indiana with a loss, 103-91. The Pacers were without Paul George, David West and others, but had no problem closing out the young Sixers in the end. Though the opener may not have gone the Sixers way, there were plenty of positives to take from last night's loss. Let's look at what Brett Brown thought about the game and then look at what went right for the Sixers.

Coach's Take:

"I have no idea how it is going to play out," Brown said. "I thought C.J. (Chris Johnson) had an excellent game from a defensive standpoint. He made some plays. Tony [Wroten] had some signs of athletic brilliance attacking the rim, but this year's team is a mystery in how we sub it and play it."

Nerlens Noel's Defensive Impact - While he may have only scored six points on 18% shooting and missed four of six free throws, the Sixers emerging big man made a splash on the defensive end, grabbing ten rebounds and blocking three shots. Though he may have succeeded on the defensive end, the young big man out of Kentucky wasn't necessarily pleased by his performance offensively. Head coach Brett Brown tried to keep things in perspective as it is only one game into the 82-game season.

"I didn't think it was a good performance for myself," Noel said. "I have to continue to rebound, I was decent on the rebounding effort. I missed too many shots, too many open shots and too many free throws. I have to keep working and keep my mind right and don't let it discourage me."

Noel was down on his effort, but Brown made sure to keep things in perspective.

"It is a work in progress," Brown said. "I feel a responsibility to take this environment that we are in and experiment how Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel can coexist on the same court, playing together. (via CSNPhilly.com)

Tony Wroten shines in MCW's absence - Last year, we saw that Tony Wroten had plenty of raw talent when it came to the game, but had a lot to work on in terms of shot selection and decision making. To start the year, with reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams on the mend, Wroten was given the job of starting at point guard and he had an encouraging opener. He shot just under 43% from the field, tallied a game-high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Despite the loss, the second year Sixers guard was pleased with how the team performed.

"We have a lot to work on, but we played a good game today," Wroten said. "We didn't play a full 48 minutes, but we definitely saw signs of things to build off of and we will continue to push every day." (via CSNPhilly.com)

Alexy Shved shows ability off the bench - Backing up Tony Wroten was Alexey Shved, who was acquired in the deal that sent Thaddeus Young to Minnesota. He came off the bench and made five of his 11 shots for 18 points, five of six free throws and hit three out of six from beyond the arc. In addition to that, he dished out five assists. Brett Brown experimented with Wroten and Shved on the floor at the same time at points through the game, something the two weren't familiar with in practice. 

"Not a lot," Wroten said when asked how often the tandem plays together in practice. "He is a really good player, so adapting was easy. (via CSNPhilly.com)

Chris Johnson surprisingly starts, turns in solid performance - Chris Johnson, who spent time with the Celtics and the Nets in 2013-4, started alongside Nerlens Noel at the small forward position and did pretty well for an unknown guy. As shown earlier, Brett Brown was satisfied with his defensive efforts and he turned in 12 points on 50% shooting from the field. He didn't play much in the preseason, but scored 15 points in the final game against the Pistons.

"He is more of a two," Brown said of his decision to start Johnson. "He has earned it with what he has done in preseason. We need shooters and we need to have a look at possible young players who can make our team with that ability. Those reasons ruled the day when we gave him that starting responsibility." (via CSNPhilly.com)

Final Thoughts: Overall, a solid opener for a Sixers team in the midst of a major rebuild process to acquire young talent through the draft and develop them into a team that can succeed in the future. At least that is the idea. Hopefully tomorrow night in Milwaukee, Nerlens Noel continues to show his defensive prowess with an improved offensive game. It is going to take some time, but it will be exciting to see him get better as the season progresses.

Brandon Apter is a writer for Sixerdelphia.com

 


Rebuilding Done "The Phillies Way", Starring Ruben Amaro Jr.

Late last week, Phillies General Manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. followed up Pat Gillick's comments on a rebuild with support. The Phillies management held organizational meetings this week and have the start of a plan that will begin a rebuild process for a team that is home to over-aged veterans.

Ruben Amaro distributed a handbook to coaches, scouts, athletic trainers, called "The Phillies Way" and the Phils GM had this plan in place years ago, but decided now was the best time to use it in order to change direction of the team. While framework is being set for the start of an overhaul, Amaro preaches patience, which Philadelphia fans are all too familiar to, with the Sixers undergoing a process of their own to build for the future. (via Philly.com Sports)

"We want to make sure we're implementing the things we've decided are important in the organization," Amaro said. "We're just looking to try to move forward."

"More than anything else, we're trying to get younger first and foremost," Amaro said. "That's the main priority. We're trying to have a shift, a process where - whether you want to call it rebuilding, or redevelopment, or whatever you want to call it - it's time for us to change gears and look for younger, more controllable players we think can help build us a new core and move it forward."

With a plan moving forward to get younger, Amaro focused on a couple of names he believes this team can build around include the likes of Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, top prospect Maikel Franco and even Domonic Brown. Beginning to restructure the team will take plenty of effort as the Phillies aim to create a better enviornment for their player development, which has struggled significantly thanks in large part to prospects received in trades that never panned out.

"Those are all younger players who need to be surrounded by quality people and players who can help us develop them as players and people," Amaro said.

"The thought process is to design our decisions around rebuilding and identifying a new core of players that we can look to more on a long-term basis."

As this process begins, Amaro has begun with small, low-risk moves that bring back veterans Grady Sizemore and Jerome Williams, rather than focusing on a big free agent in the winter. While the Phillies may not be looking to make a splash on the free agent market in the MLB market, they are strong contenders for Yosmany Tomas, a slugging outfielder from Cuba, who will likely command a deal up to $100 million. 

In order to make room for Tomas and other young players, Amaro plans to attempt trading some of the veterans that helped this team wim five straight NL East titles and a World Series Champtionship. While fans have been calling for the release of Ryan Howard and others, finding trade partners would be a more ideal situation, but it all depends on the needs of the teams that are interested.

"A lot of it depends on the needs of the clubs," Amaro said. "A lot of it depends on the flexibility that we have - and can have - as far as dollars and cents are concerned. And our priorities. Our priorities now are a little different than they were in July. We made the decision, it's time to make a shift."

There are still plenty of variables in the mix right now, including the decision facing AJ Burnett and his player option along with the health of Cliff Lee, who is recovering from left elbow issues that caused him to miss a good part of the 2014 season. Beyond that, Amaro is focusing on depth when it comes to pitching.

"We're going to try to find as many pitchers as we can that fit the mold of short-term deals that can provide some depth," Amaro said. "That's kind of the plan."

With improvements needed in nearly every facet of their organization, it is at least somewhat promising to see the embattled GM have a plan moving forward in terms of getting younger and creating a new core of players for the future. Amaro is under contract through 2015, so if the beginning of this proposed rebuild starts to take place, it is likely his job will likely stay put for at least the forseeable future.  

Having Pat Gillick as a voice in your organization is a great asset, so let's hope some of his baseball genius rubs off on Ruben, otherwise we may be in for a long wait to see a contender at Citizens Bank Park. 

Apter Thoughts: I am not a huge Ruben Amaro supporter by any means. The contracts he has given out are questionable at best, but I find it hard to really but all the blame on him when it comes to trades. Keep in mind, Phillies fans and management were high on "untouchable" prospect Kyle Drabek years ago. Where is he now? Still struggling to be consistent in Triple-A. The Cliff Lee deal with Seattle wasn't a bad deal conceptually, the prospects just never panned out. The Hunter Pence trade is the biggest question because who knows if the Phils really needed him anyways. At the time of the trade, they were 27 games over .500 and dealt Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana for Pence. Three of those prospects would be likely to make the 2015 Phillies. That deal is what depleted the system and tainted Amaro's reputation for good. All we have to show for Hunter Pence at this point is Tommy Joseph. As a person who works in minor leagues, I completely understand the word "prospect". When the Phils dealt Pence and Lee, they received prospects with high ceilings. I just don't think you can put all the blame on the general manager just because the players didn't pan out. That is on them. He tried to replenish the farm, but they were busts, just like Kyle Drabek, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and others. That's why trades are so unpredictable, because prospects are such a big shot in the dark. Hopefully, the Phils can deal some of their veterans for solid middle-tier prospects with upside or young guys with a little major league experience that have room to grow. It is all going to be a long process, it is just nice to see it finally starting to take place. While I would be hesitant to trade Cole Hamels, he seems to be the guy on the roster with the most value, so that would be a good way to get things underway.

Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Philliedelphia.com


Game 10 Preview: Flyers head south, battle Stamkos and company in Tampa

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Wayne Simmonds braces for a hit against Tampa Bay. Photo courtesy of (Amy Irvin/38Photography)

On the heels of their third straight win, the Philadelphia Flyers (4-3-2) will head to the sunshine state to take on Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning (6-3-1).  This is the first of three meetings between the two clubs and the lone game in Tampa. Game time is 7:30.

Continue reading "Game 10 Preview: Flyers head south, battle Stamkos and company in Tampa" »