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Rebounds in season opener by Ben Simmons, who also scores 19 points

The Flyers 50th anniversary season is the franchise’s first without founding father Ed Snider. Without Snider’s passion and commitment to excellence, will the long-term direction of the franchise be affected?

The Greek God of Wrestling says Sunday’s “Hell in a Cell” show provides an opportunity for Smackdown’s roster to shine. Achilles Heel also tell us which WCW ideas will be revived in December, remembers the late announcer Lance Russell and warns fans not to wait much longer to get tickets for Ring of Honor’s television taping at 2300 Arena.

The Greek God of Wrestling explains how WWE’s elevation of smaller wrestlers indicates it is changing with the times. Achilles Heel also informs us of multiple title changes, tells you where you can see Dolph Ziggler on Saturday, and provides evidence that Terry Funk is still crazy at age 72.

Archive for April, 2018

No shot

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 30 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

The Sixers are overwhelming favorites to defeat the Celtics and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. But the Celtics disabused everyone of the notion that this would be an easy series for the Sixers right away.

The Celtics took control of the game in the second quarter and never relinquished it en route to a 117-101 victory in Game 1 of this second-round series.

The Sixers struggled in two areas that are normally strengths. They didn’t execute well defensively and they made just 5 of 26 shots from 3-point range.

“We did have an off-night shooting,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said, “but you can attributed part of that to their defense.”

As expected, the Celtics played tough, physical defense. The only Sixer who could get on track was Joel Embiid, who scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. JJ Redick added 20 points, but made just 2 of 7 shots from 3-point range. Ben Simmons contributed 18 points and nine rebounds, but he had more turnovers (7) than assists (6). Robert Covington (3 points) was 0 for 6 from the field, including 0 for 4 from 3-point range.

At the other end of the court, the Celtics converted 17 of 36 3-point attempts (47.2 percent). Some of those 3-pointers were wide-open shots, with the Sixers failing to cover the open man.

Guard Terry Rozier was the main culprit. He made 7 of 9 3-point attempts, which is two more than the Sixers made. Rozier, one of the stars of the Celtics’ Game 7 win over the Bucks on Saturday, finished with 29 points.  Rookie forward Jayson Tatum contributed 28 points while Sixers guard Markelle Fultz, selected first overall in last year’s NBA Draft, two spots ahead of Tatum, didn’t get off the bench — not even during garbage time at the end of the fourth quarter.

Veteran center/forward Al Horford was a model of efficiency as he scored 26 points for the second straight game. Horford made 10 of 12 shots from the field and all four of his free throws.

With Horford being able to make shots from outside, the Celtics lured Embiid away from the basket, opening the way for drives to the basket and back-door cuts for easy layups and dunks.

The Sixers need to tighten up their defense before Game 2. And make some 3-point attempts wouldn’t hurt, either.

Sixers-Celtics: Rivalry renewed

Posted by Eric Fisher On April - 30 - 2018 ADD COMMENTS

No two franchises have met more often in the playoffs than the Celtics and the Sixers/Syracuse Nationals. This year’s series, which kicks off Monday night (8 p.m.) in Boston, is the 20th between these two franchises.

And all of that storied history means … nothing.

Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, Julius Erving and Larry Bird. Sam Jones. Andrew Toney. Other than the history enhancing the sense of rivalry, it all is meaningless.

After meeting in the playoffs from 1980-82, the Sixers and Celtics have only had three playoff meetings during the past 35 years. The last one was the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, which the Celtics won in seven games. That series also was the last time the Sixers were in the playoffs until this season.

Much more relevant to this series is that the Sixers are the NBA’s hottest team. They are 20-1 in their last 21 games, with the only loss coming against the Heat during the first round of the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Celtics had to overcome the loss of leading scorer Kyrie Irving (24.4 points per game) to season-ending surgery. They lost forward Gordon Hayward, their other major offseason acquisition, to a season-ending knee injury in the first game of the season. It’s remarkable they earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference, earning homecourt advantage for this series.

The following are 10 questions to consider for the Sixers-Celtics series.

Who is the Celtic the Sixers must stop?

There really isn’t one, which is one reason the Celtics are so successful. With Kyrie Irving lost for the season, the Celtics rely on more of a team effort. Three Celtics – Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier – averaged between 17.6 and 18.1 points during the first-round series against the Bucks.

How do the Celtics compare to the Heat?

The Celtics are just as physical and tough defensively as the Heat. But they’re a better offensive team, with more shooting options.

How will the Celtics defend Ben Simmons?

The Sixers’ point guard is a matchup nightmare. At 6-foot-10, he is too big for most guards to handle. He averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game during the regular season, but increased those averages to 18.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 9 assists during his first playoff series. The Celtics will probably use Semi Ojeleye against Simmons, although that hurts them on offense. Ojeleye played an important role in containing Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo during the first round. Marcus Smart, who returned from injury for the final three games of the Bucks series, is another possibility to defend Simmons.

When will Jaylen Brown be ready?

Brown (17.9 points per game) is doubtful for Game 1 after straining his hamstring during Game 7 against the Bucks. When he returns, will he be full strength?

How can the Celtics contain Joel Embiid?

Veteran center Al Horford can’t match Embiid in physical talent, but he’s a smart player. Horford (8.1rebounds per game) can make 3-pointers, so the Celtics may use that shot to draw Embiid away from the lane on defense. Aaron Bynes and Greg Monroe can take turns defending Embiid to prevent Horford from getting into foul trouble.

Who was the Sixers’ leading scorer during the first round?

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might be surprised to learn that JJ Redick led the Sixers with an average of 20 points per game.

Will we see more of rookie guard Markelle Fultz in the second round?

Probably not. Top overall pick Fultz played three games during the first round. His playing time was reduced as the series progressed, with steadier veteran T.J. McConnell getting more time on the court.

Didn’t the Celtics have a high draft pick as well?

The Celtics had the top overall draft pick in last year’s NBA Draft. They traded that pick to the Sixers for the No. 3 overall pick and future picks next year. The Sixers selected Fultz at No. 1 overall, but the Celtics drafted Jayson Tatum (15.4 points), the player they may have wanted all along, third overall.

Who was the Sixers’ biggest surprise during the first round?

Veteran Marco Belinelli averaged 16.6 points per game during the first-round series against the Heat.

Which important Celtics haven’t we mentioned yet?

Guard Terry Rozier was mentioned briefly in this article, but, at 17.6 points and 6.7 rebounds during the first game, he deserves a more significant mention. Rozier scored 12 points during the fourth quarter of Game 7 as the Celtics fought off the Bucks. Forward Marcus Morris, who is from Philadelphia, averaged 13.3 points and 4.9 rebounds during the first round.

PREDICTION

The Celtics are a terrific defensive team. They will try to slow the pace, forcing the Sixers to play a halfcourt game. The Celtics have 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes in playing time during the playoffs, which is significant because there were a lot of close games during the Sixers-Bucks series. But the Sixers also have significant depth and, at least for now, two of the series brightest starts in Simmons and Embiid. SIXERS in 6

 

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