After getting two big points on Thursday against Carolina, the Flyers needed one more to get into the playoffs.
They got two in a 5-0 win over the New York Rangers and earned the #3 seed in the Metropolitan division. The Flyers dominated a pretty bad Rangers team, who fired coach Alain Vigneault that same night, and Brian Elliott only faced 17 shots in the win.
Claude Giroux scored a hat-trick and eclipsed the 100-point mark for 102 total on the season. He finished second in the league behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and finished tops in the league in assists. Hart. Trophy.
Their opponent in the playoffs: Pittsburgh. The Penguins won all four regular season meetings, two in overtime, against the Flyers. But you never know with the playoffs. Anything could happen. And I’m freaking stoked.
Here’s the playoff schedule and national networks broadcasting the game. No word on local channels.
Based on this, expect the Sixers to begin their series on Saturday.
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The weekend festivities began Friday night as the Sixers hosted LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was booed.
But the Sixers got off to an outrageous start, leading by 23 at half and scoring 78 points. Ben Simmons went off en route to a triple-double:
Ben Simmons like he's on the playground 🔥 pic.twitter.com/mLDZDssfaV
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 6, 2018
BEN SIMMONS THE WRECKING BALL pic.twitter.com/2zgGhcV0yd
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 6, 2018
But the game felt like the Golden State loss back in mid-November. A big lead only to be gobbled up by a bad third quarter and inevitable loss. And most of that happened. LeBron and the Cavs devoured the Sixers with a 43-27 third quarter to cut the Philly lead to seven. It looked like that fun first half was fool’s gold again.
Yet it wasn’t. The Sixers held their own and Cleveland never got a lead in a two-point thriller. The Sixers control their destiny with the #3 seed.
Another win followed yesterday as they took care of Dallas 109-97. Despite a slow start, the Sixers earned win No. 50 for the first time since 2000-01 and assured themselves of home court advantage for the first round.
Markelle Fultz played more than 20 minutes for the second time since his return, something Brett Brown wanted to test the young rookie with. T.J. McConnell got in very late in the game, getting 2:24 of playing time when the result was already decided. Will we see Fultz get a larger role as the playoffs begin?
Either way, Brett Brown, who should be a Coach of the Year candidate (if not winner), is getting a ton of praise, including from fellow peers:
Some pretty high praise for 76ers coach Brett Brown from Rick Carlisle: pic.twitter.com/jMYx7ZXbtV
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 9, 2018
Two more games remain for the Sixers. They’re in Atlanta Tuesday night before hosting Milwaukee Wednesday in a nationally televised game. Cleveland visits the Knicks tonight before playing them at home on Wednesday.
We saw two different Phillies teams this past weekend, and there was no criticism of Gabe Kapler, save for a quick shot by Keith Jones during the Flyers-Rangers game. Saturday, the Phils dismantled Miami 20-1 thanks in part to six RBIs by Maikel Franco. Four players hit homers that night.
Jake Arrieta’s Sunday afternoon was shaky, but that was probably expected. He gave up three runs, two of them earned, on three hits and five strikeouts in four innings of work totaling 74 pitches. But all of those hits and runs he gave up happened in the first as he began to get his groove going.
Outside of that, the bats couldn’t get going as the Marlins took the final game of the series 6-3.
Ben Lively aims to get his first win tonight as the Phils host the Reds at 7:05 PM on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
J.P. Crawford has been really bad at hitting so far this season. He’s not worried, but should the team be?
Manager Gabe Kapler keeps expressing confidence and optimism with Crawford. What else is he supposed to say? No rookie manager wants to throw a rookie player under the bus. The internal conversations the Phillies are likely having right now about Crawford are not being relayed to the media, and that’s fine. But right now, Crawford, as talented as he is, is essentially an automatic out at the bottom of the Phils’ lineup.
The most glaring flaw with Crawford at the plate currently is his long swing. It’s far too long for a non-power hitter.
“I’m just trying to get shorter,” he admitted after Sunday’s 6-3 loss. “It feels long right now, but once I get that taken care of I think I’ll be good.
“It’s tough. You can be fine in the cages and whatnot, but then when the game comes you get all anxious and you get over-excited and that’s when you get into trouble, trying to get all big. You have to remind yourself to stay short.”
Elsewhere, the Denver Post thought Coors Field was Citizens Bank Park.
New tight end Richard Rodgers was introduced Friday afternoon. He didn’t say a lot, but he’s happy to be here.
After his injury, will Carson Wentz alter his aggressive style of play?
“It definitely went in one ear and out the other early on,” former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said recently. “It didn’t go exactly like this, but this is just made up to protect the innocent or protect the guilty, however you say it. We would say to him, ‘Hey, you just need to kind of back off on some of this tackling stuff.’
“And he didn’t quite say it like this, but it was essentially, ‘No. I’m not backing off. This is me. This is how I play.’ ”
Alshon Jeffery‘s hungry for another Super Bowl and healthy after offseason shoulder surgery. He gives his input on a few topics surrounding the Eagles and the other Philly sports.
The Eagles, and every other NFL team, will have their own fan sections at the NFL Draft, which is a little over two weeks away.
Former defensive line coach Dale Haupt passed away at the age of 88. He was part of Buddy Ryan’s staff during the 80s and 90s.
La Salle hired former Villanova assistant Ashley Howard as their new head coach. He was Jay Wright’s top assistant for the past five years and is an outstanding recruiter. He’ll be introduced this morning at 11 AM.
Villanova’s own One Shining Moment video is pretty good.
The Union drew the San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 in Fafa Picault’s return after a three-game suspension. Picault recorded an assist and three shots.
They’ll host Orlando City SC Friday night at 8 PM on ESPN.
In other sports news, Patrick Reed held off Rickie Fowler and a late-charging Jordan Spieth to win The Masters. It’s his first major tournament victory.
The rest of the Stanley Cup playoff matchups are set:
— NHL (@NHL) April 9, 2018
“Where Conor? He want to fight with bus? I want to fight with real gangster.”
Shohei Ohtani is a freak. He took a perfect game to the seventh inning and gave up a single before his day was done Sunday. He had 10 strikeouts on 65 pitches after five innings.
A vigil was held in Humboldt after the town’s junior hockey team was involved in a deadly bus crash over the weekend. A GoFundMe has raised nearly $5 million in two days. One victim was the son of former Flyer Chris Joseph.
Saturday’s Blackhawks-Jets game saw both teams wear “Broncos” on their nameplates:
Former Eagle Bennie Logan joins the Titans on another one-year deal worth $4 million.
The Redskins acquired former Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan for draft picks. He’ll probably be Alex Smith’s backup.
The Sedins ended their careers in Edmonton, and they were treated with the utmost respect:
"To get this here, in a rival arena, we honestly did not expect that… The whole night showed the class they have." The Sedins comment on their final @NHL send-off in Edmonton pic.twitter.com/WLxq5m8JE7
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) April 8, 2018
Ronda Rousey did well in her debut at Wrestlemania.
In the news, Bill Cosby’s retrial will begin today with opening statements.
North Korea has told the United States Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss nukes.
The new trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story was released: