The 76ers Are Gunning for a Title
The season is nearly a third of the way through and the Philadelphia 76ers stand atop the Eastern Conference standings while their center, Joel Embiid, was recently named Eastern Conference Player of the Month. The 26-year-old has taken his game to another level this season with greater alacrity on defense and elevating his passing game which has not only made him a dominant offensive force but a facilitator as well.
During a recent game against the Timberwolves, Embiid had 37 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists during just 27 minutes of play in Philadelphia’s 118-94 win over Minnesota. Back stiffness nearly kept him out of the lineup but the opportunity to dominate in the paint against a T-Wolves team without their starting center, Karl-Anthony Towns, or backup, Naz Reid, was too tempting to resist.
“It’s just dominance on his part," teammate Tobias Harris said. "I think he’s figured it out, and he’s done such a great job of creating plays for other guys out of the post. Tonight, they had to guard him straight up. He’s continuing to figure that out, continuing to be dominant out there and it’s a pleasure to be able to be on the floor with him when he has that demeanor and he’s going like that. It makes us a really great team.”
But one of the hallmarks, thus far, of this year’s 76ers edition is their new head coach’s focus on defense. Doc Rivers, who recently won Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honors, has a proven track record of integrating role players into the spots that suit them best and, in that game, it was 23-year-old, Matisse Thybulle.
“He had 12 deflections by himself in the one quarter," Rivers said. "And Joel was amazing, but if I was giving a game ball out it would probably be Matisse, or we would split it with those two because I thought he was a difference-maker.
"I thought he frustrated (Ricky) Rubio, and then I thought he was phenomenal on (D'Angelo) Russell. He’s just a hell of a defender. He’s got his legs under him now; he knows what we expect of him and he’s been terrific.”
Philadelphia has now won six of its last seven and are virtually invincible at home, boasting a league-best 10-1 record, which means getting the No. 1 seed in the East would ensure they had homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.
It should also be noted that the oddsmakers are dealing the 76ers at +550 to win the conference, trailing only the Bucks (+275), and the newly retooled Brooklyn Nets (+175). For those who want detailed analysis and predictions on every game, daily NBA picks are offered by SBR free of charge.
LeBron Takes the High Road with Courtside Karen
Floor seats to any sporting event are usually reserved for the uber-rich or those who have enough juice with the right person or persons. It is safe to say that Chris Carlos, scion of the nation’s second-largest wine and spirits distributor, falls into the former category and perhaps the latter.
But fortune doesn’t necessarily lend itself to fame and until Monday night, only those who hang with the jet-set in Oceana Bal Harbour, Florida – where Carlos bought a cozy little condo for $25 million back in 2017 – and Atlanta would know of Chris Carlos.
However, that all changed in a Hot-Lanta heartbeat when Carlos began trash-talking LeBron James and the King took the bait by talking the trash right back. If you are Chris Carlos, this is all pretty cool stuff, even in his world. And despite his Hawks getting beat by LeBron and the Lakers, this tête-à-tête with a living legend is a great story to tell the boys at the country club.
Well, that would have been the happy ending to all of this but Carlos’ wife, 25-year-old money honey named Julianna Carlos, would have none of it. The blonde Barbie with the bee-sting lips began a profanity-laced tirade that turned heads and eventually got the pair kicked out, as well as another couple.
Julianna compounded the issue by posting a video to her 78,000 Instagram followers and continued her expletive-laden rant where she essentially said she was standing up for her husband and no one, not even the King himself, would speak to her man like that!
Not long afterward, we can only surmise that the public relations department for Carlos’ firm, Republic National Distributing Company, must have gotten wind of Mrs. Carlos’ antics and not so subtly suggested she delete her original Instagram post and then issue a mea culpa through the same account. Apologies, sincere or not, always seem to follow public displays of outrageousness.
As for LeBron, he could easily have piled on as his legions of rabid fans were already viciously clapping back at Courtside Karen via her Instagram account. However, give the man his due, LeBron spoke about the incident and came to the Carlos’ rescue:
"At the end of the day, I'm happy fans are back in the building. ... I miss that interaction. ... We as players need that interaction."
“There was a back-and-forth between two grown men,” James continued. “We said our piece. He said his piece, I said my piece. Then someone else jumped into it and said their piece.
“I didn’t think they should have been kicked out. But they might have had a couple of drinks, maybe. ... The referees did what they had to do.”