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May 11, 2021

Eytan Shander: The Sixers should be favored to win the NBA title... yes, really

Opinion Sixers

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Sixers-76ers-Joel-Embiid-Warriors-Steph-Curry_042021_USAT Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports

The Warriors had a plan to handle Joel Embiid Monday.

The Sixers are going to win the NBA Championship. This isn’t clickbait. I no longer take phone calls on my shows. Nothing here is meant to be anything more than the truth.

The Sixers are going to win the NBA Championship.

The NBA is wide open for the first time in a long time, possibly ever. We have a true opening at the top with no real trusted team that stands out. There isn’t a healthy Lakers team that can run through everyone with LBJ and AD. The Clippers have Kawhi, and while he is a proven commodity, even Leonard’s superpowers aren’t enough to overcome the disappointment in Paul George. The Nets haven’t played together and that isn’t something that just clicks, not in the post-season.

Those are the top three teams with guys who’ve won championships. The rest is a bunch of newer teams or still younger underachievers, leaving a huge void for a talented team like Philadelphia to fill.

This wasn’t the case at the start of the year, but circumstances have changed all around. The Sixers are the team right now with the best shot of filling that void and hoisting the O’Brien Trophy. The team has MVP, DPOY, and COY candidates, and each should finish no less than the runner-up. No other team can claim this level of top-heavy strength, combined with an already proven coach in Doc Rivers.

What are we really talking about as far as competition goes in the East? The Nets can be beaten, it’s just going to take a lot of effort. They haven’t established their true presence, something that took a full season for the “Big 3” in Miami to achieve. Nope, sorry — Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are beatable. We see it’s not as easy to just drop James Harden in the rotation for a couple of weeks and expect greatness.

The other team would be Milwaukee. While the Bucks are a formidable opponent, they do not boast any player of impact with a ring. There is no “NBA Champion” Giannis or Middleton leading the way. Much like the Sixers, this is still new territory for the Bucks. The Sixers won’t have it easy with either of these teams, but they do have superior talent in more areas – including a better coach – than both squads.

Who else? Jimmy Butler? They don’t have the horses this year to make that type of run. The Heat have been average in a below-average conference. They are just good enough to be in the playoffs, but not good enough to make it out of the first round. Like the other 10 teams below New York, the Heat are a big reason why Brooklyn could coast through the East without their top 3 intact. It’s why Milwaukee could underachieve and still cruise through the conference. Teams like Miami, Boston, Charlotte and yes, even Atlanta.

The Knicks are a cool story – if you can separate them being the Knicks – and will not be an easy exit. They will run through Atlanta – mainly because of their ability to play at multiple tempos, rather successfully. But let’s be honest, the story ends at the hands of Joel Embiid metaphorically pounding this feel-good tale into dust. Gone are the Knicks and the rest of the Eastern Conference.

What about LeBron James? What about Anthony Davis? What about CASPER GOMEZ or the DIAZ BROTHERS??

The West is just like the East, except there still hangs a cloud of “What if LeBron is healthy” over the Clippers, Jazz, Suns and Nuggets. Take everyone else out of the equation, they simply don’t have the talent to make a deeper run. Cool story in Dallas, nice job and great effort in Portland, but these teams are more a product of the Lakers falling than anything else.

We are back to where we began with the West having two legit champion-led teams that are about as trustworthy as news from Twitter. Once you are done overreacting and start to see the facts pile in, we see how vulnerable the Clippers are, and how beatable the other LA team is.

The Jazz, Suns, and Nuggets are just like the Sixers. Just like the Bucks too. No proven winner on the floor dominating the games, just a bunch of younger and fresher stars looking to take the crown – even for just one year. Why not Philadelphia? The Suns are so brand new it’s going to take at least a year for them to make a jump. Expect a harsh exit for them simply because of how inexperienced they are, especially with Chris Paul as their “playoff” veteran.

Utah and Denver have defined the regular season champ turned to post-season chump life. Both teams just can’t take that jump mainly because of the better talent in front of them. Guess what? Embiid and Ben Simmons are better talent in front of them. No matter what the MVP voters tell you, Embiid can have his way with Jokic. Same with Simmons locking up Mitchell. Same with Rivers out coaching anyone he faces.

Might want to sneak in a Sixers futures bet to win the whole damn thing. Let’s go!

Mare of Easttown

Eh… The show is ok. I know what’s already happened though and it’s sad in my opinion. I don’t know why we go crazy over mediocre content simply because, you know, PHILADELPHIA. I honestly believe that no show can ever be bad if it’s shot here, or has someone wearing a Flyers shirt, or mentions Ridley.

Why can’t we be critical of something that’s from here? The Goldbergs is a terrible program that would be ridiculed all over town if not for the constant references to the area. The more I talk with people who “say” they enjoy the show, the more I takeaway what they really enjoy is the nostalgia and local references, not anything memorable in the content.

Would we truly love “It’s Always Sunny in Little Rock” like we do our own show? I’m guessing not. The show is ten times funnier than the Goldbergs, but I do wonder how much we love where the show is, and what people are wearing, as opposed to what people are saying.

Speaking of which! If your “in” to Mare of Easttown is the accents, then you’re really just proving my point of how mediocre the show is through the first four episodes. How people sound in an HBO drama shouldn’t be anywhere near the top things discussed about the show, assuming the show is top quality. But we – for whatever reason – can’t help ourselves in pointing out the sounds or sights of the show.

Do a quick twitter search – after you are done reading this article – of people in Philadelphia talking about the show. Look at how many people are focusing on the accents or visuals of the area, over the content of the episodes.

Here’s a brief breakdown of the show – meant for people who are watching the show. If you aren’t interested or haven’t gotten around to watching it, don’t worry, I am not spoiling anything. I’m only four episodes in as I’m writing this, currently caught up as we all await Episode 5.

I don’t think it’s truly formed an identity because “Mare” hasn’t truly been defined. That’s not a terrible thing, so the show isn’t awful or anything like that. But when you introduce a moment or scene that is meant to be defining, you need to have some sketch of the character ahead of time.

For example, you simply cannot expect me to believe Mare would take such a foolish and illegal risk at the end of episode three if she were established as a hero cop in the beginning. Our TV hero cops see their lives fall apart outside of work because of how married they are to their work. It’s their insistence of holding up the law, not breaking it, that drives them away from everyone else. This isn’t Vic Mackey.

On the flip side, we haven’t seen anything remotely close to that level of character flaw in her up until that one moment. It was a random and rapid departure of who the protagonist was/is, yet it set the rest of the plot in motion. We need to believe in Mare before we believe Mare.

The show also picked up – almost too fast – in episode four. The plot moved exponentially quicker in this episode than in the previous three combined. That becomes problematic if it remains in that similar pattern, as we should expect things to slow down, only to ramp up in a finale – most likely leaving a lot of holes or questions.

I think the acting is generally strong, Jean Smart and Guy Pearce make good use of their screen time. Kate Winslet will always be an actress with incredible presence. I just hope the overdone accents and hat tips to Wawa don’t overshadow another strong performance.

Twitter Censorship

Twitter is hiding my tweets. I am not sure why, but I am sure they are doing it. I have the videos of how slow my tweets grow, and how limited the impressions are for my tweets. Here’s the thing, I’m not asking you to care about it happening to me, instead, that it’s happening in general.

Look, these are tweets fresh off the ending of a Sixers game. Something that was currently trending at the time of my tweets, yet the impressions are barely at 10% of my follower count. That’s after the tweet has been up for hours, or days. Ask yourself why Twitter would be doing this to a nobody tweeting about sports? Then think about how much more they are censoring and hiding, from information on COVID to protests last summer.

Here’s one more for your own entertainment.

The Middle w/ BROOKS, MAYES & EYTAN – Clip of the Week

The Eagles are not going to trade for Deshaun Watson. They won’t. They are not going to make that deal. Nope, it’s not going to happen. But… if it did. What would it take? We are joined by an expert in Houston on all things Watson!

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on The Middle w/ Brooks, Mayes and Eytan right here on PhillyVoice (Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-1 p.m.) and on @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.). You can also catch him on FOX 29 Good Day and on his new show Props & Locks Thursday nights on FOX 29.

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