Boston Red Sox

With Sixers up against history, don't expect major changes

With Sixers up against history, don't expect major changes

CAMDEN, N.J. — The Sixers have to stage an unprecedented comeback to win four straight and save their season down 3-0 against the Celtics.

The numbers are daunting — of the 129 NBA teams that have attempted that feat in a seven-game series, they all have fallen short.

The Sixers aren’t getting hung up on them, though. The focus of Sunday’s practice was making the necessary adjustments one step at a time rather than trying to overcome a giant four-game hurdle. 

“We’re OK,” Joel Embiid said. “We’re good. We know what we’ve got to do. It’s never been done before. You’ve just got to take it one day at a time, one game at a time, one quarter at a time and we’re going to be fine.”  

The Sixers held a collaborative discussion among the staff and players on how the team should “handle” Game 4, Brett Brown said. The team had plenty of game film to digest and mistakes to hone in on. Missed offensive opportunities and turnovers were glaring. Costly errors crept up in key moments late in the game when the Sixers, literally, threw away chances to cut the series to 2-1. 

“We know that we let that get away from us,” Robert Covington said. “Everybody came in mentally locked in and everyone still believes in the locker room … No one’s down. No one’s defeated.” 

Sunday was not a day of the players pointing fingers, at each other or the staff. When asked about JJ Redick’s bad pass turnover, during which neither Embiid or Ben Simmons got open, at the end of regulation that resulted in Jaylen Brown scoring a go-ahead bucket off the fastbreak, Embiid took accountability and noted a “misunderstanding” between teammates. 

“We didn’t execute well,” Embiid said. “It’s not on the coaching staff. That’s a play we run all the time and we score all the time on that. So that’s on us. That’s on us for not executing.”

Brown encourages the Sixers to play with the pace and ball movement with which they’ve had success. Ersan Ilyasova could see more minutes off the bench (27 in Game 3) if Dario Saric (4 for 11 from the field in Game 3) struggles. Don’t expect the Sixers to make major overhaul changes in Game 4, though. Brown does not seem to have plans to shake up the lineup and insert Justin Anderson for defensive purposes, noting, “We’re just trying to get our best shooters on the floor.” 

Breaking through the Celtics' defensive schemes is a must-do. They have strategized multiple ways to slow the Sixers’ top scoring threats, limiting their three-point options (30.3 percent in the series) as well as Simmons and Embiid from dominating. 

“Boston has you thinking a lot,” Embiid said. “Sometimes they double, sometimes they dig, sometimes they let you play one-on-one, and sometimes the spacing is not right. It’s a lot of thinking. It’s just on me to figure it out.” 

The Sixers, as a team, have a lot to figure out ... and they have to do it Monday. 

“It’s not easy, but at the same time the series is not over,” Marco Belinelli said. “We just need to keep fighting and tomorrow hope that we’re going to play a good game.”

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS

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AP Images

Phillies take long look at Roman Quinn as potential backup SS

BOX SCORE

FORT MYERS, Fla. — However the Phillies’ bench shapes up — whether it features four or five men during the first week of the regular season — one thing is a must:

“We need somebody who can play shortstop, absolutely,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“We need someone who can play multiple positions in the infield on our bench and someone who can play multiple positions in our outfield on the bench. That’s a necessity.”

Kapler has taken a long look at Roman Quinn at shortstop the last two days. Quinn played four innings there Sunday against the Twins. He was there for the entire game Monday against the Red Sox.

Quinn grew up playing shortstop and outfield. He broke into pro ball as a shortstop but moved to center field during the 2014 season, when it became clear that J.P. Crawford was the shortstop of the future. Now, Quinn is relearning the shortstop position so he can potentially serve as a utility man on the Phillies’ bench. He’d be an intriguing talent to have on the bench because he’s a switch-hitter with electrifying speed.

As a shortstop, the Phillies won’t be looking for Quinn to be a Gold Glover. They need someone to make the play on an emergency or fill-in basis. Quinn made three plays in Monday’s game. He short-hopped one throw and Carlos Santana made the pick. He knocked down one ball, recovered and made a strong throw for an out. He made a nice play on a groundball while shifted behind second. It wasn't the prettiest exhibition, but it got the job done.

“The more I play there, the more comfortable I’m getting,” Quinn said. “I’m enjoying it. I’d like to think I can play any position. It’s fun coming in from center field and playing shortstop. I love it.”

Quinn turns 25 in May. Some schools of thought might come down against carrying a player of his potential as a reserve. Certainly, more time in Triple A would not hurt him, especially after missing more than three months with an elbow injury last year. But the Phillies are open to the possibility of carrying Quinn. His shortstop audition the last two days has made that clear.

“Everyday reps at the minor-league level are incredibly valuable,” Kapler said. “However, because a guy is on the bench at the major-league level doesn’t mean his development is stunted. He’s getting a different kind of experience and a really valuable experience.”

Tom Eshelman was charged with four runs in the bottom of the ninth as the Phils squandered a three-run lead and lost, 6-5, to Boston.

Aaron Altherr drove in four runs. He belted a three-run homer in the fifth inning against Boston ace Chris Sale. Cesar Hernandez grinded out a long at-bat before striking out and Santana and Rhys Hoskins both walked before the home run.

“When you have a guy like Sale, making him work is critical,” Kapler said. “Cesar’s punchout was an incredible at-bat. Santana and Hoskins made him work. [Sale] gets a little fatigued and Altherr gets a pitch to whack. So Altherr hitting a home run doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens as a result of team baseball.”

Report: Phillies interview recently fired John Farrell for manager job

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USA Today Images

Report: Phillies interview recently fired John Farrell for manager job

The Phillies' search for a new manager appears to be picking up.

The club is still interviewing candidates, including John Farrell as the latest, according to a report Wednesday by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

This comes shortly after a separate report surfaced of the Phillies' "zeroing in" on Dusty Wathan, their Triple A manager, to fill the vacancy, per USA TODAY'S Bob Nightengale.

Farrell managed the Red Sox from 2013-17, leading Boston to a World Series title in his first season and back-to-back AL East crowns during his final two. Despite those accomplishments, Farrell was fired two weeks ago. The Red Sox suffered last-place finishes in 2014 and 2015, as well as ALDS exits in 2016 and 2017.

Farrell, 55, who also managed the Blue Jays for two seasons (2011-12), owns a 586-548 career managerial record.

The Phillies have already interviewed internal candidates Jorge Velandia (front-office executive) and Juan Samuel (member of coaching staff since 2013), according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have also interviewed Phil Nevin (ex-Giants third-base coach), Gabe Kapler (Dodgers player development director) and Chip Hale (A's third-base coach), according to a report by Zolecki on Tuesday. However, Nevin is out of the running, per Nightengale, as is Hale, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.

Phillies officials have said they'd like to have a new manager in place by the start of the general managers meetings during the second week of November.