The offseason is here for the Sixers.
A season that began with turmoil and transitioned to excitement with the addition of a new superstar ended with a thud Thursday night when the Heat ousted the Sixers from the playoffs with a 99-90 victory in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Sixers are left with questions going forward, from roster makeup to the coaching staff to the viability of winning with a center who can’t stay healthy.
They watched former Sixer Jimmy Butler guide the Heat to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three seasons as The Process drags on. He’s been tough, and smart, efficient, and consistent. And he wins. Marcus Hayes writes that Butler has been everything Joel Embiid and James Harden have not.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
What’s the biggest change you think the Sixers need to make for next season? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Off the Dribble
The 76ers went as far as they could. And when it became clear that they had reached the end of their rope, they wilted in the second half Thursday night. And their season ended soon after.
As the Sixers receded, the Heat charged ahead. Lead by former Sixer Jimmy Butler, they pounced on the Sixers, who were led by a wounded Joel Embiid. The Sixers center pushed through multiple injuries and hard falls to reach the end of regulation. He gave all he had left as his teammates struggled to offer assistance.
Next: The Sixers will make front office members, coaches and players available for exit interviews on Friday.
If you go through the 2022 Eagles season schedule as our beat writers did, you’ll see that generally the start of the season seems pretty favorable. The Birds open up at Detroit and get to see Carson Wentz and Washington and Doug Pederson and Jacksonville early for reunions.
The schedule does get more difficult later on, and we’ll have to see if the Eagles can return to the playoffs. The consensus is that the Eagles could have a pretty good year.
Get used to seeing Bryce Harper as the Phillies’ DH for a while longer. On Thursday morning, Harper met with Los Angeles-based orthopaedics sports medicine specialist Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who confirmed that Harper has a small tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Harper will not throw for four weeks. The team hopes that he’ll be able to start a throwing program after that, but will continue to DH. He has not played right field since April 16.
Against the Dodgers in another roller-coaster game, with Zach Wheeler pitching in his return, the Phillies coughed up a six-run lead in the 8th inning, scored a couple more in the 9th to give themselves another chance at a win, and then finally closed it out.
Next: The Phillies will send Kyle Gibson (3-1, 2.94 ERA) to the mound against left-hander Clayton Kershaw (4-0, 1.80) and the Dodgers at 10:10 p.m. Friday (NBCSP).
On the Fly
Have you ever gone on a trip of a lifetime? One that you will never forget? A bunch of local hockey players are on one as we speak. They are in Canada representing the Flyers organization in the prestigious Quebec peewee hockey tournament. With more than 120 teams and famous NHL alumni that include Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, as well as current Flyers like Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee, the tournament is an experience even current NHLers still remember vividly. Giana Han talked to this year’s group before it headed north to begin play this week.
Jim Curtin is in the middle of a difficult stretch of games that will test him and his Union squad. There have been new challenges even in the positive elements. The club’s recent Open Cup exit raised questions, such as: How to reward Stuart Findlay’s stellar play when the roster that excludes him is unbeaten in so long?
The Union squad also is only two games into a grueling stretch of five games in 16 days, so Jonathan Tannenwald is measuring what’s at stake this weekend against MLS rivals the New York Red Bulls. Also, what has happened to the Union’s usually strong defensive performances with their recent trend of coughing up leads?
Elsewhere, of course, it’s that time of the season when teams worry about relegation.
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Marcus Hayes, Gina Mizell, Keith Pompey, Giana Han, Alex Coffey, Jeff McLane, EJ Smith, Josh Tolentino, and Jonathan Tannenwald.