Sixers are finisheds Daily Newsletter

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It only seems fitting that the ‘Nova Knicks turned out to be the ones who bounced the 76ers from the playoffs. Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart won repeatedly at the Wells Fargo Center with the Villanova Wildcats, and their fingerprints were all over a 118-115 New York victory there on Thursday night.

Brunson poured in 41 points in Game 6. DiVincenzo hit five three-pointers and scored 23 points. Hart had 16 points, 14 rebounds, and hit a clutch three with 25.1 seconds left to put the Knicks in command. It was almost as if Jay Wright drew it up.

The referees might have to be credited with an assist for the Knicks, though. Brunson lived at the foul line while the Sixers were left begging for fouls, David Murphy writes.

Despite the loss, the Sixers look promising for the first time in the 11-year debacle since The Process began. They have the best coach they’ve had yet, in Nick Nurse. They have a matured superstar in Joel Embiid. They have a maturing superstar in Tyrese Maxey. They have draft picks and cap space and a fan base that kind of loves them again, Marcus Hayes writes.

Embiid had 39 points and 13 boards but watched the end of the game from the bench after fouling out. Another Sixers season that began with high hopes fizzled out in the postseason. And this time, they didn’t even make it out of the first round.

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The Phillies are off to their best start — 21-11, including 13 wins in the last 16 games — since 2011, when they set a franchise record with 102 victories. The surge has been built largely on the backs of the starters, whose collective 2.50 ERA is the lowest among National League rotations and second in the majors to the Boston Red Sox (2.03). And like every positive early-season trend, it comes with a question: Is this sustainable?

The strong start is unlike the last two seasons when the Phillies limped out of the gate yet still made deep playoff runs. How does 21 wins in their first 32 games change their season projection?

Next: The Phillies return home to open a series against San Francisco at 6:40 tonight (Apple TV+). Aaron Nola (4-1, 3.20 ERA) will start opposite Giants right-hander Jordan Hicks (2-0, 1.59).

Men’s and women’s basketball coaches in the Big 5 breathed a sigh of relief Thursday with the closing of the NCAA’s transfer portal. However, the La Salle men and the Villanova women lost a number of starters. The St. Joseph’s women, meanwhile, did not lose anyone. Teams in the City Series were impacted in different ways, and Jeff Neiburg examines the portal’s effect on the local programs.

TJ Bamba, formerly of Villanova, has committed to play his final season of eligibility at Oregon.

Phillies fans can find a rooting interest in the 150th Kentucky Derby in Dornoch, whose part-owner is Jayson Werth. Some of the buzz about Dornoch subsided after his fourth-place finish at the Blue Grass Stakes on April 6. His Derby odds are 20-1.

So who’s favored Saturday in the Run for the Roses and what are the predictions from Ed Barkowitz and our staffers? Here’s a horse-by-horse preview of the Triple Crown race.

MLS published a list Thursday with the contract statuses of every player across the league’s 29 teams. The information includes when each player’s contract expires and when his team-held options are for. Eighteen of the 33 players signed with the Union (including those out on loan) are in their final guaranteed years. Goalkeeper Andre Blake is one of them, and Jonathan Tannenwald runs down the list.

The team is not likely to have next year’s FIFA Club World Cup on its docket after its dreams were all but dashed on Wednesday.

What you’re saying about gutsy efforts

We asked you: What’s the gutsiest playoff performance you’ve ever witnessed? Among your responses:

Michael Jordan’s “flu” game. It wasn’t just his numbers. It wasn’t just his consistent and comprehensive efficiency. It wasn’t just his 44 minutes played or climactic tiebreaking shot. It was the fact that he got virtually no support, as most of his teammates had painfully subpar games. Maybe they were steering clear of him in case his food poisoning provoked the inevitable outcome. I’ll never forget his swollen eyes and his palpable difficulty in breathing. Sorry Wilt. He’s the GOAT. — Gene T.

I hate to even submit this one because the memory is still so painful. Gutsy not because of an injury or sickness etc., but because a ROOKIE Laker point guard who went on to become one of the greatest ever ended the 1980 NBA Finals for the Sixers. In Game 6 with Abdul-Jabbar sidelined with an ankle injury it looked like a sure championship for the Sixers, but Magic Johnson took over at center and scored 42 points, with 15 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 blocked shot, and 3 steals to take down the 76ers who were so confident with Kareem out. A sad day for Philly and one not to be forgotten. — Everett S.

The gutsiest playoff performance I have ever seen in many years of rooting for Philadelphia teams was Cole Hamels pitching in multiple games in the 2008 playoffs and World Series. He was unbelievable especially for a pitcher as young as he was at the time. A close second would be Nick Foles who saved the best performance of his career for the Super Bowl, outdoing the great Tom Brady. — Tom E.

Episode 3 of unCovering the Birds: Dive into the remarkable journey of Reed Blankenship in the latest episode, as Jeff McLane explores how the undrafted rookie overcame adversity to secure a pivotal role in the Eagles defense. From a potentially career-ending injury to becoming an indispensable team member, Blankenship has shown resilience and determination. Listen now!

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Keith Pompey, David Murphy, Marcus Hayes, Scott Lauber, Jonathan Tannenwald, Jeff Neiburg, Matt Breen, Neil Paine, and Ed Barkowitz.

By submitting your written, visual, and/or audio contributions, you agree to The Inquirer’s Terms of Use, including the grant of rights in Section 10.

That’s all for another week of Sports Daily. Thanks for reading. See you in Monday’s newsletter. — Jim…Read more by Staff Reports

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