PFB 023 – 2018 NFL Week 6 Podcast

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@Eagles_Dan88)

We bemoan the continued Eagles’ poor play, but there was nothing poor about our picks in Week 5. Tune in for a discussion of our best bets for NFL Week 6.

Direct YouTube link.

Dan Week 5 record: 5-1-1, Season: 14-10-3
Sean Week 5 record: 2-1, Season: 7-6

Good luck!

PFB 022 – 2018 NFL Week 5 Podcast

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@Eagles_Dan88)

We’re through the first quarter of the season and now have a pretty good idea where teams stand in the league hierarchy. After a shaky Week 4, Dan and I look to get back on track with our best bets for NFL Week 5.

Direct YouTube link.

Dan Week 4 record: 1-2-2, Season: 9-9-2
Sean Week 4 record: 1-2, Season: 5-5

Good luck!

PFB 021 – 2018 NFL Week 4 Podcast

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

Dan joins the podcast on his 32nd birthday to discuss best bets for NFL Week 4. He’s another year older, but will he be another year wiser?

Direct YouTube link.

Dan Week 3 record: 2-3, Season: 8-7
Sean Week 3 record: 1-1, Season: 4-3

Good luck!

PFB 020 – 2018 NFL Week 3 Podcast

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

After two weeks of technical difficulties, I feel like I landed a man on the moon, when all I managed to do was properly record a two-sided, half hour-long conversation. Take that, millions of more technically-inclined people around the world!

The first couple weeks of the NFL season have reminded us why we put up with all the off-the-field ugliness. FitzMagic! Pat Mahomes! It’s been a lot of fun, made even better by the fact that Dan and I are both still sporting winning records on the year. Now, tune in for our picks for NFL Week 3.

Direct YouTube link.

Dan Week 2 record: 3-2, Season: 6-4
Sean Week 2 record: 1-1, Season: 3-2

Good luck!

Avoiding the Red Zone: 2018 NFL Week 2

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

After a long wait, the NFL season finally returned and we were treated to a lot of fun and interesting things over the course of the opening weekend. We saw Aaron Rodgers play on one leg and bring his team back from a 17-point halftime deficit, Pat Mahomes make the Chiefs look smart for trading away Alex Smith and handing over the keys to the offense to him, Baltimore grind Nathan Peterman and the Bills into a thin layer of dust, and the Steelers and Browns play to a hilariously inept tie. But you know the one thing we didn’t see? Me figuring out podcasting.

For the second week in a row, a tremendously insightful podcast is lost in the digital ether. Well, half of it was. I did test out new recording software, but only regarding playback on my end. So when playing back our recording to get everything published, I noticed it had everything I said, but nothing from Dan. Progress? I’m shooting for at least three-quarters of a recording next time.

Thanks to our sponsor Joanna-Platt.com for putting up with not having the live read. Check out the site for all your life and relationship coaching needs. The Love Always, Jo podcast is available on ITunes, from someone who actually knows what she’s doing in terms of that form of media.

Anyway, I think I narrowed down the issue to using a Bluetooth headset, so I’ll try to get my hands on a USB version. Until then, here are our picks for Week 2.

Dan:

Week 2
Cincinnati +1
Minnesota +1
Denver -5.5
Chicago -3
3-team moneyline parlay: Rams/Chargers/Falcons

Week 1 record: 3-2

Sean:

Week 2
Carolina +6
Kansas City +4

Week 1 record: 2-1

Good luck!

Avoiding the Red Zone: 2018 NFL Week 1

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak) and Dan Urda (@DanUrda)

We recently spent an hour on the phone for our NFL Week 1 podcast, stuffed full of insightful information and side-splitting comedy. Unfortunately, due to an unforeseen recording software error, the podcast was never actually recorded. *Old man shakes fist at cloud.* Curse you, technology!!!!

Those 45-plus minutes of pure gold are lost to time, but fortunately, at least our picks don’t have to be. Here are our best bets for team season win totals and Week 1 plays (corresponding vigs are not listed).

Dan:

Season-long Futures
Buffalo under 6.0 wins
Cleveland under 5.5 wins
Oakland under 8.0 wins
Joe Flacco under 14.5 interceptions
Sam Bradford under 8.0 interceptions

Week 1
Cincinnati +3
NY Giants +3
Carolina -4
3-team teaser: New Orleans pk / Baltimore +2.5 / NE/HOU over 41.0
KC/LAC over 47.5

Sean:

Season-long Futures
Buffalo under 5.5 wins
Dallas under 8.5 wins

Week 1
Cincinnati +3
Tennessee -1.5
Carolina -3

Good luck and enjoy the start of another NFL season!

Important Site Announcement

Hi everyone, I wanted to share some personal news pertaining to the site. Starting this weekend, I will begin work as deputy editor for Liberty Ballers, SB Nation’s Philadelphia 76ers site. After years of plugging away at Philly Fast Break and then also serving as a weekly contributor for Fan Rag Sports, I’m very excited for this new opportunity.

What does this mean for my site? Well, I’m not taking it down. I still intend to do some college basketball work on it, have fun with our NFL picks in the fall, and run free prize contests for subscribers (sign up here!). However, any Sixers coverage from me going forward will be found entirely at Liberty Ballers.

Thanks to everyone who has read my work on the Sixers here over the year. I’ve always greatly appreciated your support. If you have any questions or concerns about anything, please message or e-mail me. Let’s go Sixers!

– Sean

Sixers destroy Bucks in regular season finale for 16th straight win

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 130, Milwaukee 95 – Box Score

Seeking to clinch the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Sixers wasted no time showing they were the more motivated team in Wednesday night’s regular season finale against Milwaukee. Just 6 seconds into the game, Marco Belinelli, filling in as a starter for J.J. Redick (lower back tightness), drained a three from the right wing. The points continued to come nearly that quickly for the Sixers throughout the rest of the game.

As shot after shot found the mark, Philadelphia went up by as many as 30 points in the first quarter, ending the frame ahead by 28. Heading into the locker room at halftime, the Sixers had a Wells Fargo Center record 80 points in the first half. With the outcome long since decided, the only drama toward the end of the game concerned an unlikely triple-double for Markelle Fultz.

The rookie snagged his 10th rebound with a little more than a minute left in the game, immediately getting mobbed by both teammates on the court and the bench along the baseline. Fultz finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, and a block, joining Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell among Sixers point guards to record a triple-double this season, and becoming the youngest player in NBA history to pull of the feat.

Aside from the round statistical benchmarks, Fultz was merciless in attacking the basket and used his long wingspan to track down seemingly every loose ball. He looked incredibly confident on the court and it’s amazing that in a few short weeks, he’s gone from a total question mark to a pivotal part of the playoff rotation.

Of course, there was no shortage of great performances from the Sixers in the blowout victory. Here were a few:
– Dario Saric came back from the dentist with a new mouthpiece and scored 24 points in 28 minutes.
– Richaun Holmes dunked any ball without a five-foot radius of the basket, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
– T.J. McConnell received time alongside the other two point guards with Redick out, and responded with his best game in quite some time (16 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals).
– Justin Anderson actually led the scoring, dropping 25 points on 5-12 shooting from behind the arc. Anderson is likely the best two-way option on the wing to back up Robert Covington; this performance might give Brett Brown added confidence to turn to him in the postseason.

The Philadelphia victory marked 16 straight wins, the longest winning streak in NBA history to end a regular season. The Sixers will face the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs, starting on Saturday. Donning a black mask in a pregame press conference, Joel Embiid said he is unlikely to play in Game 1, a sentiment that Brett Brown reiterated after the game. Fortunately for the Sixers, Embiid or no Embiid, they’ve proven they can get the job done.

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Veterans step up to secure 15th straight win for the Sixers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 121, Atlanta 113 – Box Score

In the penultimate game of the regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers tested the very outer limits of just how many young stars could be out or under the weather before jeopardizing the team’s chances of winning. Joel Embiid spent the night sending out a picture of himself with a mask on social media. A mere 13 seconds into the game, Dario Saric caught an inadvertent elbow from John Collins, suffering a cut lip and chipped tooth; the Homie would not return to action. Questionable entering play with a stomach flu, Ben Simmons had flashes of brilliance, but was clearly not his dominant self from the past few weeks, having as many turnovers as assists (6 of each).

Fortunately, the Sixers roster is now more than a collection of young, raw talent. With those core players recuperating or ailing, facing a Hawks team heading for the lottery but clearly still trying on the court, it was the old geezers (i.e. the guys in their 30’s) to the rescue!

Whenever Philadelphia needed a big bucket, they would set a pick for J.J. Redick to come off the left wing to the top of the key for an open look from three. More often than not, he canned the shot, making 6 of 9 attempts from downtown for a game-high 28 points. Redick also continued to show off his off-the-bounce chops, dishing out 5 assists, including a very nice shovel pass in traffic to Amir Johnson underneath the basket for a pivotal hoop in the fourth quarter.

Speaking of Johnson, the big man had arguably his best game of the season, finishing with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Most of those dishes were hand-off-type plays to teammates coming off screens for threes, but one was a backdoor bounce pass to Redick right on the money for a reverse lay-in. The scoring was what we’ve come to expect from Amir, flipping up awkward-looking hook shots in traffic or pure hustle plays around the basket. Not House of Highlights-worthy stuff, but 2 points is 2 points.

The vets off the bench made their marks on the game as well. Assuming a bigger role with Saric injured early, Ersan Ilyasova went off for a Sixers season-high 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. The Professional shot 4-8 from downtown, while also utilizing the threat of his outside shot a couple times to pump fake and step in for a shorter jumper or drive to the hoop. Meanwhile, Marco Belinelli did Marco Belinelli things, making 5 of 12 from behind the arc for 20 points. I thought this one-footed, off-balance, banked three perfectly encapsulated his tenure in Philadelphia.

The Sixers will need all hands on deck one more time for the season finale tonight against Milwaukee. The Bucks could finish anywhere from 6th-8th in the East depending on tonight’s outcome, but maybe they would want to finish 7th and get the injured Celtics in the first round? They also owe a first-round pick to Phoenix that is protected #17-30 and they’re right on the precipice of that level, so it’s hard to know whether they would prefer the pick defers another year or not. Basically, Milwaukee’s motivation is very much up in the air.

Saric’s status won’t be known until after a dentist’s visit today. A win (or a very unlikely Cleveland loss against the Knicks) and Philadelphia will secure the coveted 3rd seed in the East. It’s also one more chance for Ben Simmons to cement his Rookie of the Year case against Donovan Mitchell, who apparently doesn’t know what the word “playing” means. Let’s see a 16th straight win heading into the playoffs!

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Sixers win epic showdown against LeBron, move into 3rd seed in the East

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Philadelphia 132, Cleveland 130 – Box Score

Maybe it had to end that way. The Sixers had led Cleveland by as many as 30 points and were ahead by 23 at halftime. Then, in a throwback to December of 2017, Philadelphia gave up 43 points in the third quarter, allowing the Cavaliers to eventually trim the gap to as little as 1 point in the game’s final minute. So when Robert Covington was whistled for a foul with 1.9 seconds remaining, the Sixers up 3, and LeBron James ruled to be in the act of shooting from behind the arc, Philadelphia fans were mentally prepared for the gut punch to come. We had seen this movie far too many times before.

Except this time, the final blow never came. LeBron missed the second free throw, and after he intentionally missed the third, Cleveland’s tip-in attempt somehow didn’t go in and the Sixers escaped with the victory. It felt like an exorcism for every terrible loss we’ve had to sit through over the last however-many years. Arguably the greatest player of all time in the sport missed a free throw with a chance to tie the game and the Sixers won their 13th straight contest to move into 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with less than one week remaining in the regular season. 2018 is truly a charmed year for Philadelphia sports.

It was a memorable finish to a truly epic game. The first half was like a fever dream for Sixers fans, as the team dropped 78 points on the Cavs, their highest first half total since February 11, 1992. Ben Simmons was clearly fired up to face his mentor (and future teammate?) on such a big stage. Simmons finished two assists shy of a triple-double in the first half, eventually achieving the feat in the third quarter, thereby tying Russell Westbrook for an NBA-best 4 triple-doubles before the fourth quarter this season.

The rookie finished with an incredible 27 points, 15 rebounds, 13 assists, and 4 steals, but what really stood out was the flair he brought to the table for this game. Simmons was just routinely pulling off crazy, And-1 stuff like this behind-the-legs dribble into an assist:

Even the King wanted no part of Simmons when he was making his way down the lane.

With Simmons simply everywhere on both ends, teammates were able to feed off that energy around him. J.J. Redick scored 19 of his his team-high 28 points prior to halftime, doing a terrific job running around screens and losing Cavaliers defenders who have, at best, a passing interest in playing defense. Likewise for Marco Belinelli, who had 12 points at the half, and eventually hit 6 threes on the night for 23 points. Markelle Fultz even hit a 20-footer! Everything was going right for Philadelphia.

But you knew LeBron James wasn’t going to get punked like that. Not in this important a game. The King scored 19 points in his 8 minutes of playing time in the third quarter. He dropped another 16 in the fourth, and after starting the game 1-7 from the field, suddenly he’s looking at a 44-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist night. Seriously, Ersan Ilyasova had about as much chance here as the cow in Twister:

https://twitter.com/World_Wide_Wob/status/982428129514938368

Yet, even LeBron’s heroics weren’t quite enough. This was the first time we saw Brett Brown coaching in a playoff-like atmosphere and the results were promising. He made the adjustment to start sending a double-team at LeBron in the final minutes. It resulted in consecutive open threes for Cedi Osman, who crucially, missed them. You live with having Osman try to beat you rather than letting LeBron keep torching you.

Brown perfectly subbed in units for free throw shooting, defense, or rebounding down the stretch. I also liked his decision to foul up three with under 30 seconds left. The final time, I maintain Covington has to realize they aren’t blowing the whistle right away and get his hands off LeBron once he starts going into his shooting motion.

In the end though, the Sixers survived King James and the once-every-few months explosion from Jeff Green (33 points), all without Joel Embiid! The big man was at the game and in good spirits following his surgery. Hopefully, if these two teams meet again in the next month or so, he’ll be in uniform.

For now, the Sixers are the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference, which takes on added importance with the news that the 2nd-seed Celtics will be without Kyrie Irving until next season. Philadelphia’s remaining games come against tankers in Dallas and Atlanta, and a possible meaningless-for-them finale against the Bucks, so the path to finish 3rd is right in front of them. Plus, Indiana lost last night, so 1 Sixers win or 1 Pacers loss guarantees them at least the fourth seed and home court advantage in the first round. But they fought for the 3-seed Friday night and they’ll look to keep it. From everyone I’m seeing, there will be even more epic battles to come.

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