Joel Embiid and Spencer Dinwiddie

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Nets would be a bad first round matchup for the Sixers

Dave Uram
March 25, 2019 - 11:09 am

The 76ers can’t control who they’re going to face in the first round of the playoffs, let alone any round for that matter, if they’re fortunate enough to advance. Heading into Monday night, they’re 2.5 games up on the Pacers for third in the East, 4.5 games ahead of Boston and 3.5 back of Toronto for second.

While the Sixers don’t decide who they’ll play, it would suit them best to avoid the Nets, who are currently in sixth, 0.5 game ahead of the Pistons. The Sixers still struggle to stop ball dominant guards, as evident in their loss to Atlanta Saturday night when Trae Young dropped 32, including the game winner.

At 38-36 heading into Monday night, Brooklyn is a scrappy, young, inexperienced team that would essentially be playing with house money in any postseason situation. They feature three play making guards in D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert. Jarrett Allen is a strong rim protector, Joe Harris can shoot the lights out and Rodions Kurucs can easily put up double digits. Then, there are a few seasoned veterans that fill out Kenny Atkinson’s rotation.

The Nets overcame key injuries and an eight game losing streak, so they’re not unfamiliar to adversity. Not to mention, they’re 2-1 against the Sixers this season, with wins of 122-97 in Brooklyn and 127-124 at Wells Fargo Center. Their loss to the Sixers was one of the Jimmy Butler buzzer beaters. They haven’t played the Sixers since mid-December, well before the trade to bring in Tobias Harris. 

Right after the All-Star break in my second half bold predictions, I wrote the Sixers will face the Nets in the first round and win in six games despite Brooklyn’s tendency to give the Sixers problems. I still feel experience will rule the day. That being said, it won’t be easy, and the last thing the Sixers should want to be is worn out for what will likely be a grueling second round and Eastern Conference Finals series against two of Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston or Indiana.

The sixth through eight seeds will be a three team combination consisting of Brooklyn, Detroit, Miami, Orlando or Charlotte. It’s unlikely the Sixers will finish any higher than third. The Sixers struggles with Brooklyn is something to keep in the back of your head. The two teams close their regular season series Thursday at Wells Fargo Center. It would suit the 76ers well to blow the Nets out and send a message that Brooklyn isn’t in Philadelphia’s league.

Phil Martelli’s Firing Couldn’t Have Been Handled Worse

College basketball teams are allowed to make any coaching changes they want, especially when losses outweigh the wins over a period of time.

Related: Martelli on 94WIP: 'Feels like I've attended my own funeral'

That doesn’t excuse Saint Joseph’s for how they dismissed Big 5 and Philadelphia icon Phil Martelli. In fact, dismissal is a kind way to put what happened. Martelli was fired, much to his surprise.

Athletic Director Jill Bodensteiner, who’s been on Hawk Hill for one year, said there wasn’t one thing that led to this decision, and she was doing it with the student athletes’ best interest in mind, as well as what was best for Martelli and the university in terms of timing.

Trust me, the timing wasn’t good. Martelli, his family and the Philadelphia community were shocked.

Martelli deserved more than a 10-minute press conference from Bodensteiner. He deserved more than short press releases, one which featured a typo.

“Coach Phil Martelli stands among out among his peers”

He didn’t deserve to be blindsided by this decision after 34 years of service to that school.

Martelli should’ve been given at least one more year, what would’ve been his 25th as head coach, to prove that he can turn the program in the right direction. Word is St. Joe’s would’ve been predicted to do rather well too.

Bottom line, it was a real shame what happened to Martelli and Big 5 basketball last week. It should’ve been handled better.

Sports Is a Game of Inches

How bad did you feel for the UCF players who suffered a heartbreaking 77-76 loss to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament?

Not only did the Knights give up a late lead to the one-seeded Blue Devils, but both of their last second attempts rimmed out.

Brutal. I couldn’t feel worse for those players, who came so close to a massive upset, but in the meantime might’ve given other teams the playbook to beating Duke.

Sunday’s ending was the perfect example of how sports are a game of inches. There is nothing fundamental B.J. Taylor or Aubrey Dawkins could’ve done to put the ball in. They simply caught a couple of cases of bad luck.

Sometimes, that’s how it goes.

Jeffrey Lurie Talks This Week

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is going to hold one of his two or three press conferences of the year sometime this week in Phoenix at the NFL Owners Meetings.

Here are some things I’m curious to hear his thoughts on:

-Future of injury prone franchise quarterback Carson Wetntz

-Decision to part ways with Nick Foles

-Bringing back DeSean Jackson

-Running Back Position

Happy First Week of Baseball

Spring Training officially ends Monday, finally. Starting Thursday we’ll get to watch a legitimate, real baseball game just about every single night. There are few things in sports that are better.

And I hear that the Phillies should be pretty good as well.

“If we didn’t get (Bryce) Harper, I thought we could’ve won our division without that,” Phillies legend Larry Bowa told Joe DeCamara and and Jon Ritchie last week in Clearwater. “…If we don’t not only get in the playoffs, but if we don’t go deep, I’ll be disappointed.”

Happy New Year, Phillies fans.