If I needed a cigarette after game three, I need an oxygen tank after game four.
You saw a little bit of everything on Saturday – fighting, fouling, scrapping, turnovers, huge defensive stops, and a tight fourth quarter finish. Through it all, the Sixers kept their head above water and found a way to win a playoff road game while being totally out of whack for the better part of two and a half quarters.
The fact that they turned the ball over 26 times and still came out on top is nothing short of astounding. If Miami can’t get it done after throwing a haymaker barrage for the second straight game, then it’s time to wrap this series up and move on to the next round. The Heat fly back to Philadelphia down 3 to 1 in the series after failing to capitalize on two performances that probably should have been good enough for at least one win.
This game gave us our first truly tight fourth quarter, a series of possessions where we can really analyze how Brett Brown and the Sixers operated in crunch time.
It was 100-99 Philly with 1:00 to play and possession of the ball after a Joel Embiid turnover and Dwyane Wade layup. With the half-full American Airlines Arena finally showing a pulse, Brown went to the team’s staple horns set, and a JJ Redick back screen gave Ben Simmons a free run to the rim:
That’s a defensive mixup between Josh Richardson and James Johnson, and Simmons saw it all the way.
On the other end, Wade would answer with a 16-footer of his own, which brought us back down the floor with the Sixers again leading by one, this time with 30.1 seconds remaining. Brown went to another play that’s worked well before, something they used in the regular season in Miami, the Joel Embiid and Redick 25 action:
Very simple dribble hand off and a huge screen on Richardson, who got abused on the second straight possession with Hassan Whiteside unable to help. The only thing you’d ask for there is for Redick to get his feet behind the three point line. Otherwise, that’s perfectly run.
On the other end, Joel Embiid was whistled for a foul on Wade, though I think the refs got the wrong man. Embiid seemed to get all ball after Robert Covington had slapped Wade’s arm and caused the ball to pop free, yet Joel got the foul instead.
After Wade missed his second free throw, Redick crashed the glass for an offensive rebound, took a Heat foul, and converted both foul shots at the other end. That was enough for a four point win after Miami missed on their final possession at the game.
They just executed mentally and physically in that final minute. They answered tough buckets with well-run sets and hit the free throws when it mattered.
Playoff basketball often comes down to fourth quarter half court possessions, and in their first real test of that this postseason, the players and the coach passed with flying colors.
It was all but over.
After two listless performances on home ice, the Flyers limped into Pittsburgh facing a 3-1 series deficit against a Penguins team looking to hoist the Stanley Cup for the third straight season.
The patient clung to life – barely. All that remained was for Sidney Crosby to administer last rites, Evgeni Malkin to drive the final nail into the coffin, and the local beat writers to shovel dirt on the grave that would serve as the final resting place of the 2017-18 campaign.
And then something unexpected happened. The Flyers showed a pulse.
They didn’t deserve to win. The Penguins dominated large stretches of the 2nd and 3rd periods while the Flyers took bad penalties and relied on Michal Neuvirth to cover for poor play in the defensive zone. Pittsburgh claimed a big advantage in the faceoff circle, possessed the puck for much of the contest, and consequently had the Flyers chasing the game instead of dictating it.
Neuvirth was spectacular, except when he wasn’t. The two goals he conceded were incredibly soft. The first came after Neuvirth carelessly turned over the puck, leading to extended offensive zone time and a wraparound goal delivered by Penguins forward Bryan Rust. Neuvirth was able to get to the post to stop the shot, but somehow the puck squeaked through his pads.
The second goal was equally inexcusable given the situation. Jake Guentzel took a pass from Crosby, depositing the puck through the five-hole and into the back of the net. Neuvirth’s second period nadir put the orange and black in a 2-1 deficit. If they had put forth the effort they exhibited in Games 3 and 4, the series would have ended.
Instead, the Flyers battled back. A short-handed tally from Valtteri Filppula tied the game late in the second, while a Sean Couturier blast from the blue line late in the third pulled the Flyers ahead. Matt Read sealed the victory with an empty net goal, and the Flyers lived to play another day.
Given the evidence of the past week, the result seemed improbable, but in the context of the longer arc of the Flyers’ season, the Game 5 triumph was not unusual.
I don’t know about you, but I still can’t figure out the Flyers.
How do you get embarrassed in two home playoff games (and three of the first four) and then go on the road, into the home arena of the two-time defending champions, in an elimination game, and win?
And not only that, they did it with a lopsided special teams disparity against them, and came out on the plus side of that ledger. They did it with a new starting goalie, who gave up two bad goals, but also made several big saves – including one in the final minute – to protect the win. They did it with a much-maligned depth forward being thrust into a position where he was destined to fail – and he played the game of his career. They did it with their most important player in this series, somehow playing with an injury he shouldn’t be playing with, one that noticeably limits his skating and is definitely limiting his minutes, scoring the game-winning goal.
In other words, they did it against all odds. Continue Reading
Phil and Russ discuss:
- Champions League semifinal draw (1:00)
- Did Real benefit from drawing Bayern? (3:30)
- Could Liverpool shock the world? (8:00)
- Serie A: Juve v. Napoli (20:00)
- EPL: City clinches the league (22:30)
- Mourinho goes on another rant (25:30)
- Is United an attractive destination? (30:00)
- Harry Kane’s odd declaration (34:30)
- La Liga: Atletico and Real jockeying for 2nd (37:00)
- Bundesliga: Bayern make a surprising hire (41:00)
- Ligue 1: Runaways (46:00)
- CONCACAF Champions League: Toronto’s chances v. Chivas (46:30)
- International Champions Cup matchups (50:30)
- Zlatan and the Swedish National Team (53:00)
- ESPN FC update (55:30)
- iTunes Review (1:00:00)
- Champions League predictions (1:02:00)
Audio after the jump: Continue Reading
They basically gave him a bonus for winning the Super Bowl.
Per Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport:
Foles' deal was about hooking him up after his performance in the postseason. It is not a reflection of the team's feeling on Wentz's recovery. They remain confident he's working his way back.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) April 20, 2018
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 20, 2018
Foles was originally set to earn $7 million this season, the second year of a two-year contract.
It’s another player-friendly move via Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas. Earlier this offseason they revised Stefen Wisniewski’s contract to reward him with $250k from a missed playing time incentive. Chris Long is also returning to the Birds, reportedly with a revised deal.
If you do one thing this weekend, carve out 45 minutes to watch this video, which is filled with exclusive locker room stuff that we hadn’t seen before.
It’s on Youtube:
Some schlub in the comments section didn’t like the “Worst of Philadelphia” bracket because he/she thought it was “a dumb series of posts that only enhance the negative views of the city.”
Congratulations to he/she for being the only person to take the bracket seriously, and for also lacking a sense of humor.
But I realize that a three-week competition to determine the worst things about Philly is intrinsically negative, and Crossing Broad is a website that was founded on fair and balanced journalism.
So in the interest of equilibrium, and also just to prove that I’m not a total asshole, I whipped this up:
Looks like a pretty good field to me.
I think I’d have to assign “Eagles Super Bowl champs” as the overall #1 seed. I could definitely see “it’s not New York” coming out of the bottom left region. Ron Brooks is a JUGGERNAUT on the other side of the bracket and I think “easy to walk and bike” would do some damage. Seriously, have you ever been to Atlanta or Los Angeles? You can’t walk or bike anywhere. Those cities are just big plastic suburbs.
Anyway, I think it’s important that we show positivity, objectivity, and fairness in our journalism, which I hope we’ve accomplished here.
It was 127 to 108 with four seconds remaining last night when Dario Saric drove to the rim for a layup attempt.
He was cut off and blocked by Kelly Olynyk, a hard downward slap but nothing truly malicious, as the Heat center/power foward looked to keep the homie from extending a 19-point lead with an easy garbage time bucket.
The play began with a defensive rebound and quick transition up the court. The Sixers could have easily just walked it up and run out the clock, but they did this instead:
Asshole play? Or totally fair?
You see a bit of a stare from Olynyk. He’s not giving that up at the end of the game, and I don’t blame him.