The Philadelphia Phillies are one of the hottest teams in baseball. They are on the brink of setting a National League record in home runs in a single month after previously setting a new team record. Nick Nurse picked the right time to make his first visit to Citizens Bank Park.
Nurse, the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, kicked off the final game of a Phillies homestand by throwing out the first pitch. The Phillies are looking to extend their winning streak, currently the largest in MLB, to six in their series-concluding matchup with the Los Angeles Angels. The Sixers coach delivered a strong pitch that had some good velocity but wasn’t over the plate — an impressive toss overall in the grand scheme of ceremonial first pitches.
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) August 30, 2023
Nurse made Philly fans smile by imitating All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel's famous arms-out stance before getting into his wind-up. The Sixers coach appears to be a fan of the long-time star, as he said during an interview with the NBC Sports Philadelphia broadcast that when he threw out the first pitch at a 2019 Chicago Cubs game — Kimbrel's team at the time — he decided not to imitate him. He said that he didn’t want to pass up that chance again.
The Phillies have the support of Nurse, too. He said in a pregame interview on SportsRadio 94WIP that what he's seeing from them is similar to his Toronto Raptors team that won it all in 2019. The Sixers coach said that the Phillies have the chance to win the World Series, finishing the job they started last year after losing the Fall Classic to the Houston Astros.
“They’re super hot — and that’s good this time of the year to get the confidence that you think you’re improving,” Nurse said of the Phillies. “Just looking back at my run with the Raptors, we started playing really well — where we were like, ‘Okay, we're pretty nasty’ — with about a month to go in the regular season, very similar to the Phillies now. I think you gotta continue to improve just a little bit these last few weeks. Just little things.”
Nurse has preached to his teams in the past how important it is to have momentum going into the postseason. He certainly appreciates the job that Phillies manager Rob Thomson is doing. Learning from great coaches across all sports is a way that Nurse likes to broaden his own coaching horizons. He's doing the same with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni as he visits one of their practices on Thursday.
The Phillies are certainly feeling themselves as they separate themselves in the NL Wild Card race in pursuit of a championship. When the Sixers' season starts up, he will look to get his team similarly firing on all cylinders.