Ummm...don't look now, but the Sixers, after beating the LA Clippers last night by a score of 101-80 are only a 1/2 game out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the NBA Eastern Conference.
How bad is the East if the Sixers have a shot at the 8th spot?
Don't get me wrong; I like a lot of the Sixers' young players, but this team lacks lots of elements you need to be successful in the NBA: any sort of 3-pt. threat, a consistent inside scoring threat, the lack of good perimeter defense, etc, etc. I could go on and on. And alot of the issues are mostly due to lack of talent and the poor construction of the team, in general.
But the fact that the Sixers are this close to a playoff spot is a testament to the young talent on this team as well as coach Mo Cheeks. Cheeks, not thought of as an elite coach in this league, seems to be making the best of the state of flux that the Sixer organization is currently experiencing.
The real trick is to figure out what is best for the franchise: making the playoffs this year or to continue to trade away assets in order to rebuild for this summer? That is the question for GM Ed Stefanski.
The Flyers lost again to that paragon of goaltending Stephen Valiquette and the NY Rangers by a score of 2 - 0. The Flyers' offense is simply non-existent right now. Simon Gagne is still trying to find his game as there were several occasions where he lost puck battles or simply looked disinterested in getting into a prolonged puck battle.
Defensively, I thought the Flyers played about as well as you could. The first goal was a miscommunication between the defense and the goaltender, but otherwise, they were solid. Derian Hatcher was an absolute beast in this game, playing about as physically as I've seen from him in a long time. The team, in general, possibly from being frustrated at not scoring consistently, seemed to have a collective burr under their saddle. A huge fight in the 2nd period occurred, punctuated by Steve Downie beating Fedor Tyutin like he stole something. Mike Richards seemed to be searching out a fight for most of the 2nd period, first trying to go with Sean Avery and later, he finally did go with Brandon Dubinsky.
But other than the spark from the fight, the Flyers' offense has been largely dormant of late. You sort of wonder how much this has to do with the Peter Forsberg rumors that have been circulating about, because the way they are playing offensively reminds me of how they played last year when Forsberg was flying all over the globe searching for a new skate boot.