Finally, a talk about the draft on the Ricky that involves two people! Spike has finally watched a bunch of YouTube, and has some barely informed opinions.
We go over who the Sixers may pick in the draft, take some fantastic Twitter questions, talk about the current NBA Playoffs, Bill Simmons’ exit from ESPN, a jigsaw and more!
Thanks for buying so many Lottery Party shirts. We can tell you, there will be A LOT of people there. If you never ordered, you can still get one to be sent from Cheesesteaktees, and we’ll have a VERY LIMITED number of shirts at the party.
Of course the RTRS/Liberty Ballers is May 19th at Buffalo Wild Wings at Grant and the Boulevard. All info is HERE.
So I’m sitting at home last night watching game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals (I see you Lebron James), and I was struck by what may be the most important development in NBA basketball. Maybe the most important development in sports.
Guys with two first names.
I mean, at first glance, this isn’t someone you want to trust. Never trust a guy who keeps his change in his wallet, or a guy who has two first names. But the evidence seems irrefutable.
On these two teams alone:
Chris Andersen (debatable I know, but Anderson Cooper, Verajao, Hunt, etc…)
Ok so maybe it’s just the Heat, but they won 27 straight games and 66 games overall and may win the NBA Championship.
What do we do with this information?
Well, of course, call Sam Hinkie and tell him to make a spreadsheet out of it.
Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.
The Philadelphia 76ers were a pitiful franchise for the better part of the past decade. Basketball fans looked down on the team and Philadelphia fans forgot that they even existed. Down on their luck and struggling to get to .500, the Sixers toiled in futility for an audience of few.
One day, the star-studded Boston Celtics came to Philadelphia. They laid their season and championship aspirations on the line for anyone willing to fight them for it. It was publicized as a means for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”. The underdog 76ers foolishly accepted the open invitation. The Celtics were supposed to dismantle their opponent with ease and build up some good press but someone forgot to tell that to the Sixers, who see this as their only shot at making the “big time”.
Did that sound familiar to you? It should as this city has ridden the “Rocky” narrative into the ground for the past 40+ years. The truth though, is that sports fans here have forgotten what it means to be an underdog. Sure, we’ll play a bit of Mickey’s speech to the crowd when we need a rally at Citizens Bank Park or cue it for the final period of a Flyers playoff game but do we really connect with those ideas anymore? If we did, the Sixers would be our most cherished sports team.
Invoking the Rocky narrative during the final inning of a baseball game when our 173 million dollar team is trying to score a walk-off run against the Pirates tells you all you need to know about the state of things around here. In truth, we have become a “Championship or Bust” town who will quit on a team at the first sign of trouble. If a team legitimately doesn’t have a shot at winning it all, the seats are empty. Philadelphia has become a city of fans who only want to root for Apollo Creed.
I watched our “Dream Team” stumble over themselves to an 8-8 record last year. I’ve been there when the Phillies went out in the first round of the playoffs to the Cardinals as well. What we saw and felt after last week’s win over the Boston Celtics is something I haven’t been a part of in a very long time.
In front of a fickle crowd growing hostile, up against a team determined to put them back in their place, the 76ers were down by 18 points. The team’s very presence in this second round could be attributed directly to injury. Nobody would be surprised if this was how the season ended. Nobody could have expected even this much from the Sixers this year but through all of the punishment, against an opponent clearly more talented, they picked themselves up.
They absorbed blow after blow but kept fighting. Philly counter punched until Boston threw their hands up and exclaimed “Fine, take this round if you want it so bad you stubborn bastard.” Our team won that game not because of some Free Agent acquisition or blockbuster trade paying off. They won because they wanted it. They wanted it even more than the fans did.
The Philadelphia 76ers are probably not going to win a championship this year. If I had to bet money on it, I would not take them to make it out of this round but on that wild night, I didn’t care. I did not care about not having a star scorer. It didn’t matter that the Celtics were old or “let their foot off the gas”, the Sixers won and that was everything. To see Andre Iguodala, our flawed captain finally come through in the clutch, to watch him take in the post-game scene like he wasn’t guaranteed another day in the NBA was special.
This post-season run has provided us with moments I will always remember regardless of the end result and that is what makes sports worthwhile. We put time and energy into a long shot and were rewarded handsomely for it.The 2011-2012 Sixers represent everything that has been missing in Philly sports for years: maximum effort, overcoming adversity, and above all, REAL GROWTH.
We have witnessed the development of young players. They might not have been superstar talents and they may never be but they are ours and they work as hard as any of us at their job. Isn’t that what Philadelphia is supposed to be about?
Up in Boston, on Monday night, the team took yet another rough body blow Aren’t you proud to say you don’t expect them to stay down for the count? The team is 3-3 when trailing in the third quarter this post-season and a whopping 4-0 following a loss. I can’t remember rooting for a team less likely to give in to adversity.
This basketball team has been an underdog all season long but they are still playing. They may not be the favorites and maybe they stand no chance of winning even another game but if you’ll claim that a blue-collar mentality still exists here in Philly; that you share that mentality, the 76ers are your team. Whether they have a single fan rooting for them in the stands, those players will be out on the floor against the best teams in the league, battling, diving for loose balls and picking themselves off of the sweat covered floor until that final bell rings.
Can we still root for an underdog? The Sixers cannot be expected to win but they are determined to go the distance.
Michael Conroy is a freelance sportswriter and Flyers fan, and a guest writer for Spike Eskin Dot Com. You can find him on Twitter @MichaelConroyPM.
A lot has been said about the disappointment most of us are feeling about the end to this Flyers season. That feeling is understandable. This team was so captivating all season long, so likeable, they truly did suck you in. You really wanted to see this cast of characters succeed. But on Tuesday night, to our collective dismay, the Philadelphia Flyers played their final game of the year.
They were beaten four straight times and truthfully, they deserved to be. The Devils proved over and over (and over) again to be the superior team. As Philadelphia sports fans, most of us awoke on Wednesday morning desperately seeking answers. WHO IS TO BLAME? Why did this team fall so short of their potential?
I, however, awoke asking different questions. Is anyone really to blame? Did this roster actually fall short at all?
The Philadelphia Flyers began this season by trading almost every cornerstone of the team away. This led some to speculate that we may be in for a rebuilding season of sorts. The Flyers were also introducing a goalie into a far less disciplined defensive scheme than he
has ever played in; a scheme minus its most important defensive player.
All that considered, maybe the Flyers over-achieved.
Still, as I glanced at the day’s Inquirer from across a busy convenience store, I could see that my optimism was not shared. The “Bryzaster”
headline let me know exactly what I was in for. This fanbase was looking for a scapegoat to slaughter and in this town, nothing’s quite as sweet as the blood of a goalie.
The Flyers’ goaltender has become, to us, that first guy they question in a Law and Order episode. You know that guy; the one who is out on parole and is un-cooperative before eventually leading the police on a lengthy chase. We chase down that man until he trips over something or one of us heads him off with a vehicle of some sort. It’s only after we get the ex-convict back to headquarters that he is revealed to be innocent.
Indeed, Ilya Brygalov was an issue that the Flyers needed to overcome to win their first series against the Penguins. He was not the goalie the Flyers paid him to be this season or post-season and I don’t believe that is debatable. But this isn’t all on Bryz.
The incredible saves that crazy Russian made to keep the Flyers in some of those games versus the Devils go a long way to absolve him of most of the blame. Given the circumstances, I’d say that Bryzgalov played well for most of this series. We, as a fan base, can not charge him solely with the crime of ruining the season.
If you’d like a more viable candidate for “Ruiner of all Things Sacred and Beautiful” as it pertains to the Flyers, I may be able to provide you with a solid lineup to choose from. To effectively single out any of these players,though, we must also accept that this season, we were trying to have our cake and eat it too.
When rookies on this team were playing out of their minds against Pittsburgh, we attributed that mostly to them being too young to understand
the gravity of the situation and that’s what allowed them to perform at such a high level. Maybe those same rookies were just too young to understand the gravity of the situation and that’s what prevented them from performing at a high level against New Jersey.
Untimely penalties, incessant turnovers at the blue-line, sloppy checking and misplaced aggression buried this team often this year. Those are
trademarks of a young team and when the Flyers ran up against a team that took advantage of those mistakes, they struggled mightily. When you remove the emotional and unlikely triumph over the cup favorites, we certainly could accept this ending.
This season took us for a wild ride. There were twists and turns, we laughed and cried but in the end the team ended up right about
where we thought they’d be. I don’t think we could have expected anything more. When you fill your roster with young exciting talent, your roster becomes filled with YOUNG exciting talent. That seldom wins championships.
That all being said, losing still sucks. It really sucks, but let’s try to keep this in perspective as best as we Philadelphians can. This was not a choke-job; this isn’t the “wrong mix of players” and the Flyers don’t need to draft a clutch quarterback. This team had a great season.
Those sloppy, inexperienced rookies are brimming with potential. What do you say to a little optimism this off-season? Let’s bask in the glow of what this team could be for a little while. There will be plenty of time to condemn them all when they come up short again sometime in the future and dammit, I just know we will.
Well, there goes one weekend of playoffs in the books, and boy was it was memorable. If you didn’t pay attention you would have thought Tim Tebow and the Broncos played the only game last weekend. Sure, that was a nice win by the Broncos as 9.5 point underdogs and I’m sure some people made nice money on the Broncos moneyline (+300), but there were a few other games on the slate. The Giants knocked off the hapless Falcons, the Saints won a shootout in the dome against the Lions, and then there were the Texans.
I salute you, JJ Watt.
Our pick last weekend was the Texans -3 at home over the Bengals. The game pretty much played out just as I wrote it up, Houston used Arian Foster and the running game along with Andre Johnson to get some scores, and they shut down the Bengals on defense for an easy 31-10 win as 3 point favorites.
You might say that the pick six by defensive tackle JJ Watt at the end of the first half was lucky, but was it really? Houston had a much better defense and it was just a matter of time before Bengals rookie QB Andy Dalton folded under pressure on the road. And fortunately for us, it happened at the perfect time. What should have been a 10-10 tie at half quickly turned into 17-10 Texans, and from there is was all over.
We’ll take the win, it moved us to 24-17 on the season, and a whopping 8-1 in our last 9 picks. It’s been a nice run, so let’s keep it up. Here we go with the Round 2 pick…
Bet #1: (a.k.a the “OK, I can definitely cheer against the Giants” pick)
Green Bay Packers -7.5 over New York Giants
The old saying goes ‘perception is reality’, and whether you agree with it or not perception is going to play into our favor this weekend.
Giants fans are feeling pretty good this week.
Everyone watched the Giants beat up on the Falcons last weekend and come away with a nice 24-2 win. And as a result, the public is all over the Giants (like white on rice). The line opened at Green Bay -9 and is currently at Green Bay -7.5, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it dropped to Green Bay -7 by kickoff. Everyone is betting on Big Blue. And the local media is driving the badwagon. The Newark Star-Ledger is screaming “New York Giants football is back!”
Yes, the Giants won. Yes, their defense looked pretty good. But the Falcons put up one of the ugliest performances in playoff history, failing on two 4th-and-inches plays, getting only 247 yards of total offense, and after missing that second one it seemed like they just gave up. The Giants played well, but the public is acting like they beat the 1985 Bears. Relax, it was only the Falcons (who played like crap), but this week the Giants will get a wakeup call when they visit Lambeau Field.
Green Bay has the best offense in the NFL. There, I said it. Maybe you can argue the Saints are better, or the Patriots, but for my money it’s the Packers. And getting them at home, off a bye week, playing a team in it’s 4th straight ‘must win’ game is a good spot to bet on.
The Giants have been fighting for their lives ever since they lost to the Redskins (for the 2nd time this season, I might add) in Week 15. Week 16 they had a ‘win or go home’ against the Jets, they won. Week 17 it was ‘winner takes all’ vs. Dallas, the Giants won that one too. Last week it was the wildcard game, and the Giants stepped up and beat a ‘not playoff ready’ Falcons team. This week is a major step up in class.
Hopefully we see alot of Lambeau Leaps on Sunday
You’re probably already sick of hearing how this Giants team is just like the Giants team in 2007-08. You know, the one that got hot at the end of the regular season, beat the Packers in Lambeau to win the NFC and then pull the mother of all upsets over the undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. As they like to say on the internet, cool story bro. But it ain’t happening again.
The Packers are rested, they are 15-1, they are undefeated at home, 6-3 ATS in their last 9, 7-1 ATS at home this season. And how about this list of points scored by the Packers at Lambeau this season (reverse from Week 17): 45/35/46/35/45/24/49/42. Wow.
The Giants come in with the #8 offense, #3 passing, #20 rushing and to be fair, that rushing rank included weeks where Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were hurt, so they are a little better than that. So there is some firepower there, and the Packers defense isn’t great but has played well at home, and I think this will be more of an ‘outscore the Giants’ than a ‘shut down Eli’ type of game.
There is an added layer of emotion on the Packers bench this weekend. Michael Philbin, son of Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin was found dead this week after drowning in a lake. He was 21. Joe Philbin will not be at the game this weekend, but I don’t expect that to impact the Packers at all. I see this as a rallying point for the Packers to win the game so somehow they can turn a tragedy into something positive for their coach. I don’t see Aaron Rogers letting up this weekend, it could be a huge game for #12.
How about the Giants hang in the game for a while but fail to stay in a track meet with the Packers at Lambeau. Green Bay wins it 37-20.
The Line: Green Bay -7.5, O/U 52 The Pick: Green Bay -7.5 Game Trends (via Covers.com): Green Bay: 8-1 ATS vs. teams with a winning record. New York: 4-12 last 16 games on grass.
Divisional Round Props
Here are some props to chew on. Last week I gave out a winner with Arian Foster getting most rushing yards. If you took Arian Foster +450 and Andre Johnson +700 like I wrote you would end up with a nice +250 profit. Props are fun to play, but for small wagers. No need to get carried away.
Highest Scoring Team
San Francisco 49ers (+1200)
Denver Broncos (+2500)
New York Giants (+1500)
Green Bay Packers (+160)
New England Patriots (+150)
Baltimore Ravens (+1000)
New Orleans Saints (+350)
Houston Texans (+3000)
First choice has to be the Patriots, but at +150 it’s not worth the money. Same with the Packers at +160. No real value in these, I don’t see any other team really rolling up points. If you think Eli can pull the upset, then maybe the Giants at +1500 looks tempting, but I’ll pass.
Most Passing Yards
Aaron Rodgers (Packers) (+350)
Alex Smith (49ers) (+1200)
Drew Brees (Saints) (+130)
Eli Manning (Giants) (+450)
Joe Flacco (Ravens) (+800)
Tj Yates (Texans) (+2000)
Tim Tebow (Broncos) (+2000)
Tom Brady (Patriots) (+250)
I’m going with Aaron Rodgers at +350. You read what I wrote above, I think Aaron Rodgers will have a huge game. Not only is he capable of throwing 400 yards, this could be the week he makes it a priority to rack up yards. And at +350? I’ll take it.
How about Tebow at +2000? Wow. That shows you how much faith Vegas has in his arm, he’s coming off a 316 yard game last week and now going against the worst pass defense in NFL history, no respect.
Most Rushing Yards
Ahmad Bradshaw (Giants) (+650)
Arian Foster (Texans) (+350)
Benjarvus Green-Ellis (Patriots) (+2000)
Chris Ivory (Saints) (+650)
Frank Gore (49ers) (+350)
Ray Rice (Ravens) (+200)
Ryan Grant (Packers) (+1000)
Willis Mcgahee (Broncos) (+350)
I would love to say Arian Foster again at +350. But Baltimore has the #7 rush defense, so I have to pass on him. No real value here.
Most Receiving Yards
Andre Johnson (Texans) (+800)
Anquan Boldin (Ravens) (+1500)
Demaryius Thomas (Broncos) (+600)
Hakeem Nicks (Giants) (+450)
Jermichael Finley (Packers) (+1500)
Jordy Nelson (Packers) (+450)
Marques Colston (Saints) (+300)
Michael Crabtree (49ers) (+1000)
Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) (+1000)
Vernon Davis (49ers) (+2000)
Victor Cruz (Giants) (+300)
Wes Welker (Patriots) (+600)
This is a tough one, no real favorite in this either, no stud WR waiting to get yards against a bad pass defense. Throw out Andre Johnson, Boldin and Colston as they are facing solid pass defenses. If you are looking for a play maybe Hakeem Nicks at +450. I think the Giants will be playing from behind and Eli will be tossing it all day. Between Cruz (+300) and Nicks (+450), I’ll take Nicks. But I’m passing on this one.
So for props, the only one I’ll go with is Aaron Rodgers for Most Passing Yards at +450. It’s going to be a Packers weekend. Bet the game, bet the prop, pop a few cold ones, and enjoy the game.
Oh, and I just wrote 1300 words and didn’t mention the Eagles or Andy Reid once. You’re welcome.
…and before I let you go, I LOVE this Sixers song. #ShowYaLuv