Al Horford's Blood Smeared All Over Me
The Opening Tip
Hello & Happy Almost Weekend - It's the Corner Three!
Oh Yeah, The Sixers
Don't Look Now..
I want you all to take a minute this weekend and really admire and reflect on the fact that the best player in the NBA (not a hot take!) plays in Philadelphia
This Week's Top 10
10. Phillies Home Openers
8. Tank vs Garcia
7. The Masters
6. Dirt Bikes
5. Uconn Basketball
3. Water Ice
2. Joel Embiid
1. Angel Reese
Best Thing I ate This Week
A funnel Cake and Cinnamon Toast Crunch milkshake from Siddiq's water ice in west philly. The best you'll have of each this spring/summer!
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MIKE'S CORNER... BOSTON AND MILWAUKEE
New to the Corner Three Newsletter: every week Spike or Mike will write a section, aptly titled Spike's Corner or Mike's Corner. It's Mike's turn today, and he's writing about the Sixers Eastern Conference playoff path.
It looks like the Sixers have, once again, knock on several pieces of wood like you’re doing an Andrew Bird instrumental, drawn a favorable first round matchup. The Brooklyn Nets are 1) close by, 2) just okay, and 3) not Jimmy Butler’s employer. I love and would die for Mikal Bridges, and know the torrential angst that would rain down upon the city of Philadelphia if he drops 40 in a Game One win. But I think that’s — *plays the intro to Skin, Is My on various parts of my desk* — unlikely, and the Sixers will doff their cap on the way to a Gentleman’s Sweep.
What comes next is, congrats, either the Boston Celtics and then, if we are so lucky, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Since being the worst team in league history to get to the NBA Finals in 2001, the Sixers have lost in the first round six times and the second round six times. In the Process Era, that’s one first round exit and four second round exits. The Conference Finals have eluded this organization since I was 11. Only the Knicks, Hornets, and Wizards have a longer Eastern Conference Finals drought. Had I known how long it would be until the Sixers returned to the Conference Finals, I would’ve made it my Bar Mitzvah theme.
This year Lucy (Van Pelt, not the giant tanking octopus) will set the football down, and the Sixers will try to kick it once again.
Boston is Boston. They’ve knocked the Sixers out of two of the four playoff runs of Joel Embiid’s career, with the Sixers 1-8 against them when it counts. They’re also, as of this writing, 3-0 against the Sixers on the season, and even if that becomes 3-1 Tuesday night, we can nihilist ourselves into thinking that’s Boston giving the Sixers a win to toy with their emotions or because they just correctly think they own us and would be happy to see Boathouse Row in the second round. The reasons to not want to face them are obvious: they’re the reigning Eastern Conference champs, they do own us, Doc Rivers getting pants’d by a cohesive, efficient, slimmed down 2-way rotation feels like a foregone conclusion, and once again losing to Tatum & Horford & Smart & Et Tu Mike Muscala would be devastating enough to tranquilize a whale shark. But the thought of beating them, of Embiid stuffing Horford into the basket like a well-packed suitcase, of PJ Tucker living in Tatum’s mouth for a full series and whispering “for Markelle” into his trachea, of James Harden getting Marcus Smart four fouls in seven minutes in a closeout Game 6 in Philadelphia… it’s a nice thought.
Milwaukee would at least be a different way to die? Brook Lopez is the best player on the planet, Jrue Holiday seems to live to ruin James Harden’s life, and Bobby Portis has never missed a shot against us and could murder several Sixers rotation players with his eyes. Matchup wise, this would feel like a Tyrese Maxey series - in four games this year he averages 23.5 on 62% shooting, 58% from three. Jrue would stick James, and as good as Jevon Carter is defensively, Maxey can blow by anybody they put in front of him. Embiid can pick-and-pop from the nail, but he can’t dominate Lopez physically the way he could any of the guys Boston would send at him. Beating MVP challenger and ladder bully Giannis would please me, especially if they do what I would like them to do: give Joel the Giannis assignment 75% of the time and demand no one help onto him. Losing to Milwaukee would feel less bad because, well, at least it’s Giannis, and their fans are significantly less of a dickhead collective.
So what do we want and what should they want? I guess the thing the Atlanta series taught me is that it doesn’t matter what the matchup is, they are capable of blowing anything. The benefit of being the road team against either Boston or Milwaukee is it will not prompt the appearance of the Fuckboy Sixers thinking they’re too good to try. Milwaukee is the tougher series for Joel physically, Boston tougher mentally. Finally getting the Celtics monkey off their back, while getting the Conference Finals monkey off this Bar Mitzvah boy’s back, would easily be the most satisfying version of Embiid’s career arc. More torturous risks come in that series, and there’s a part of me that wants to believe Milwaukee is the better matchup, but I think I’ve been lying to myself. It’s Boston, it should be Boston, we should want it to be Boston, and if they finally break through, they can go confidently into a Brook Lopez series with Horford’s blood smeared all over them and see if Giannis gets baited into going unsuccessfully at Joel’s chest. And if that doesn’t work, well, I’ve been dead for years anyway.
Peace, Love and Process
Call Your Siblings and see (some of) yall Sunday night!