Points by Ben Simmons during Game 3 victory over Nets

Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On May 17

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An estimated 3,000 excited fans showed up Tuesday night at Xfinity Live! at the South Philly Sports complex to root for the Sixers.

Of course, they weren’t rooting for the Sixers in a playoff game. The Sixers haven’t sniffed the playoffs since 2012. No, the fans filled Xfinity Live! to root for the Sixers in the NBA Draft lottery.

Have we lowered our standards so far that we are celebrating draft picks? The roar that went up when the lottery revealed that the Kings had moved into the top three – the Sixers had the option to switch first-round picks with the Kings – was ridiculously loud.

Maybe those fans forgot that drafting in the top three is no longer special. This is the fourth consecutive draft in which the Sixers will have that distinction.

The jury is out on the previous three top three picks. Joel Embiid has played 31 games in three seasons, Ben Simmons has yet to play an NBA game and … on second thought, the verdict might be in on Jahlil Okafor, the No. 3 selection in the 2015 draft.

Perhaps the excitement surrounding the draft lottery is a reminder that we haven’t had much to root for in recent years. It has been five years since one of Philadelphia’s four major sports team tasted success during the postseason.

The Flyers defeated the Penguins in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. That was five years and two head coaches ago. The Flyers have missed the playoffs three of the five seasons since that series victory over the Penguins.

That same year the Sixers upset the top-seeded Bulls in the first round and then pushed the Celtics to seven games in the second round. The victory over the Bulls, aided by an ACL injury to point guard Derrick Rose, represents the Sixers’ only victory in a playoff series since 2003. The 2011-12 season is also the only one in which the Sixers have posted a winning record since the 2004-05 seasons.

The last time the Eagles won a playoff game was at the end of the 2008 season, when victories over the Vikings and Giants propelled the Eagles to within one victory of a return to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, they lost to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game. The Eagles have three first-round losses since 2008 and haven’t qualified for the playoffs the past three seasons.

The Phillies have been in the playoffs since losing to the Cardinals in the first round after winning 102 games during the regular season. They haven’t posted a winning record during that span.

For those who consider Major League Soccer to be a major sports league, the Philadelphia Union have never won a playoff game.

With a playoff drought that has lasted for half a decade – not counting the Soul – no wonder fans are so excited about a draft lottery.


PLAYOFF TEST: As noted in the previous item, the last playoff success for Philadelphia’s major sports teams came in 2012. Who were the coaches for the Sixers and Flyers that year? (Answer at the end of Fish ‘n Chips.)


LOTTERY WINNERS: The Flyers made a major jump in the NHL Draft lottery, moving up from the 13th draft position to the No. 2 pick. Unlike the 2007 draft, when the Blackhawks won a coin toss and selected Patrick Kane first overall, leaving the Flyers with James vanRiemsdyk at No. 2, the Flyers will get either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, with both centers considered to be elite prospects.

The Sixers could have had a transformative draft if the lottery had provided them with two picks in the top five, but they still are in good position to select a future foundation piece at No. 3.


FUTURE IS NOW? The signing of running back LeGarrette Blount to a one-year contract might be an indication that the Eagles aren’t content to wait for the future to arrive. Blount, who rushed for 1,168 yards and led the NFL with 18 touchdowns last season while winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots, should make the Eagles better. His ability to pick up first downs and touchdowns in short-yardage situations should be extremely valuable.

But Blount is 30 years old, which is fairly old for a running back. He certainly doesn’t appear to be a long-term solution at running back. So why have Blount take away carries from second-year running back Wendell Smallwood or rookie Donnel Pumphrey?

The answer might be that there is some urgency for the Eagles to return to the playoffs. At least there might be some urgency to win for executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman and, by extension, head coach Doug Pederson. After eight seasons with a playoff victory, owner Jeffrey Lurie might finally be starting to run out of patience.


HONORING SNIDER: Former Flyers chairman and founder Ed Snider, who died a little more than a year ago, will have a section of 11th St., near the South Philly sports complex, renamed Ed Snider Way in his honor during a ceremony Thursday. This is a nice gesture. A better one would be naming the entire sports complex, or at least the arena in which the Flyers and Sixers play, after Snider. What’s wrong with the Well Fargo-Snider Center or the Snider Sports Complex?


PELLETIER PASSES: Marcel Pelletier, the last remaining member of the group that built the Flyers from a first-year expansion team into Stanley Cup champions, died Saturday at 89 years old. Pelletier, who was a goalie during his playing career, worked with original general manager Bud Poile and original head coach Keith Allen, who became the general manager who and assembled the pieces of the Stanley Cup-winning teams.


REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: After going winless in 16 straight games, including their first eight this season, the Union have registered three straight shutout wins, with the latest being a 2-0 triumph over visiting Houston on Wednesday.


PRELIMINARIES ALMOST OVER: Although there have been some competitive series, the first few rounds of the NBA playoffs seem like preliminaries for the finals rematch between the Warriors and Cavaliers. If Kawhi Leonard hadn’t reinjured his ankle during the third quarter of Game 1, perhaps the Spurs might have tested the Warriors. It’s also possible that the Celtics challenge the Cavaliers. But a Cavaliers-Warriors rematch seemed almost inevitable from the start of the postseason.


NARROW ESCAPES: The Soul are playing with fire. Clearly the best team in the depleted Arena Football League, the Soul have barely defeated Cleveland and Baltimore in their past two games. If the Soul don’t stop playing down to the competition, they’re unbeaten record may soon sports its first blemish.


TRIVIA ANSWER: The answer to the question posed earlier in Fish ‘n Chips, the head coaches for the Sixers and Flyers during the 2011-12 season, which was the last time Philadelphia’s major sports teams won playoff series, were Doug Collins and Peter Laviolette. Laviolette has guided the Predators to the Western Conference Finals this season, seven years after he led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for 28 years, admits he would get very excited if he were to win the lottery.

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