There’s really no easy way to say it.
Philadelphia’s winter professional sports teams aren’t ready for the playoffs.
Both the Flyers and the 76ers are limping at the end of their respective regular seasons. Not a good sign for teams that at one time had visions of coordinating a championship parade down Broad Street.
The Flyers begin their quest for Lord Stanley’s cup Wednesday with a best of seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals series against cross-state rival Pittsburgh in the Steel City.
On Saturday, the Penguins defeated the Flyers, 4-2. It was a meaningless game for the Flyers, who rested MVP Claude Giroux and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. And despite having dominated play against the Penguins this season, winning four of six contests, the Flyers enter the postseason having lost four of their last seven games. Philadelphia hasn’t won back-to-back games since beating Washington and Montreal on March 22 and March 24, respectively.
The Sixers, who at one time were cruising with the Atlantic Division lead, are suddenly fighting for an Eastern Conference playoff berth. Philadelphia has now lost four in a row and looked completely lost in Sunday’s 103-79 blowout loss to the Boston Celtics. The Sixers have 10 games remaining in the regular season and are tied with the New York Knicks for the seventh and eighth seeds.
Sixers head coach Doug Collins doesn’t know what to do. He’s tinkered with the lineup, adjusted his player rotation and given inspirational pep talks. There’s no doubt he has spent many evenings not getting much rest trying to figure out how to correct the problem.
Any suggestions can be sent to him via the Wells Fargo Center.
How did it get this way for both the Flyers and Sixers? Injuries could be blamed as both teams have seen key personnel miss time because of ailments. But that’s too easy.
The truth, which some may not want to know, is that neither of these teams are ready for a deep postseason run. Sure, anything can happen in the postseason. They could somehow catch, as they like to say, lightening in a bottle and peak in the playoffs.
But their failure at the end of the regular season suggests that won’t be happening.
Fans of both teams have grown weary of waiting until next year to see what happens. The support for both teams remains high, which is very encouraging for a Sixers team that still doesn’t have a bonafide superstar on its roster.
The Flyers–Penguins series figures to be ugly. They have a true, old-fashioned rivalry that features hard checking, physical play, and a lot of finger pointing and trash talking.
The Sixers are just hoping to win enough of their remaining games to earn an invitation to the NBA’s postseason party. Right now they don’t appear to be worthy of the invite.
It’s easy to root for a team that’s winning or loaded with star players.
Both the Flyers and Sixers are hoping the next few weeks will see them emerge as championship contenders.
That’s an optimistic thought. But of late, both teams have been playing like championship pretenders.
And the fans aren’t happy.