There were a lot of questions surrounding the 76ers entering the NBA playoffs, with even some of our Inquirer writers questioning whether this first-round series against the Toronto Raptors was primed for an upset.
So far, Doc Rivers — who picked up his 100th postseason win — and the Sixers roster have provided a resounding answer and gone up 2-0 in the series.
They will travel to Toronto on Wednesday with a chance to close out the series. That is now a real possibility because of the play of Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris. And as Marcus Hayes wrote, the Sixers are now displaying the heart of a champion.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
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Off the Dribble
The 76ers have been rolling on offense in their first-round series against the Toronto Raptors, with contributions from Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris keeping their offense running like a well-oiled machine. That proficiency has led to a 2-0 run in their Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
And here’s the kicker: Doc Rivers is still figuring out his lineup combinations. The Sixers coach said he is trying to pair Harden and Maxey in the times when Embiid heads to the bench for a rest. If this series continues to go this route, we’ll get to see Embiid on the sidelines more than expected.
Next: Game 3 for the Sixers is at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Toronto (NBCSP).
The Phillies have received the National League’s fourth-worst production from the top spot since Jimmy Rollins was traded after the 2014 season. And they had the NL’s fifth-lowest leadoff slugging percentage last season. They’ve seemingly tried everything with no success, so now they’re trying a more unconventional approach that the manager of the 1964 Phillies experimented with in the 1980s. Forget the speedy, slap-hitting center fielder atop the lineup — the Phillies are opting for on-base percentage guys with some pop. While the strategy might be bold, the early results have not been good.
Bryce Harper is scheduled to be the DH for all three games against the Rockies as he deals with “a little tendinitis” in his right elbow.
Coors Field was no launching pad for the Phillies on Monday night. They managed only five hits in a 4-1 loss to the Rockies.
Next: The Phillies continue their series against the Rockies at 8:40 p.m. Tuesday. Kyle Gibson goes against Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland (NBCSP+).
On the Fly
Flyers director of medical services Jim McCrossin and assistant athletic trainer Sal Raffa are suing the team’s ownership after they received diagnoses of rare medical conditions they allege come from exposure to chemicals used in the Zambonis at the Flyers Training Center in Voorhees. In their lawsuit, McCrossin and Raffa allege that the Zambonis at the rink used “gasoline and/or fuel containing and/or producing carcinogens.” According to their research, there are other comparable machines available that do not require gasoline or fuel with carcinogens.
The Flyers’ Morgan Frost will play his first NHL game in Toronto on Tuesday night. It will feel like a homecoming with his father, former Maple Leafs public address announcer Andy Frost, there to watch him work at the arena that will always be known to him as the Air Canada Centre.
The Flyers have been stuck in mediocrity and are sinking lower and lower. They’ve strung together two back-to-back atrocious seasons, and there’s only slight hope for the future.
Next: The Flyers travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at 7 p.m. Tuesday (NBCSP).
Do you recognize the trophy above? For some, it’s actually the greatest (and certainly the oldest) professional soccer competition in the United States, the U.S. Open Cup. Don’t worry, the Union are still in the running for it, but they’re not in action yet. With the Open Cup including clubs from every level of soccer in the U.S., the earlier levels of the competition provide some intriguing matchups as small organizations go up against some big clubs in Major League Soccer.
Jonathan Tannenwald has all the information on this and where and when to watch other key matches this week, both at home and abroad in Europe as well.
Worth a Look
Philly is central to ‘Winning Time’: Malvern’s Adam McKay saw a book about the Lakers dynasty as an opportunity to tell a great basketball story that just so happened to have several Philadelphia story lines.
Maxey makes the mark: After scoring 38 points in Game 1 of the Sixers’ first-round series, the individual scoring prop for Tyrese Maxey was 18.5 points. He beat that with 23 in a Game 2 win.
Joel Embiid was announced as a finalist for the MVP alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nikola Jokic. If Jokic wins, he will become the 13th player to win the award in back-to-back years, joining an elite club that includes Antetokounmpo.
Of the players below, who else has won MVP in consecutive years?
A) Shaquille O’Neal
B) Charles Barkley
C) Michael Jordan
D) Jerry West
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Keith Pompey, Gina Mizell, Marcus Hayes, Scott Lauber, Jonathan Tannenwald, Matt Breen, Olivia Reiner, Giana Han, Ed Barkowitz, and Christian Red.