Morning Wood: Sleeve of Wizard

Photo credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The truth is, I was going to use that headline win or lose. A win would’ve been better, but at least we can now link our lede to headline by saying that the Wizards kept the Sixers at arm’s length.

Welcome to the Wood. The last time I did this on any consistent basis was 2012, before the Phillies totally shit in their beds and began a five-year hibernation in it. The purpose of Wood, besides making it generally difficult to pee, is to regale in tales of the previous night and celebrate our superior team. We don’t do it for all the teams because it’s a lot of work (a grind, if you will) and something is lost when you’re trying to make tongue-in-cheek, not-so-thinly-veiled sexual references of sports conquest for dreadful teams. It just wouldn’t work with a squad who counted among its standout stars Jerami Grant, or had Alexey Shved on the roster. But this team, your team, your town… well, they’re worthy of such loosely scheduled morning posting.

For those of you who are new here, strap in, because the last time this series had its lifeblood pumping, we wound up making a t-shirt of a pissing horse. And for you OG CB readers, WELCOME BACK. I’ve missed you. Let me grind up on your hip as we awake from our slumber.

Let’s Wood!

 

Start it off right

First, the necessaries: The Sixers lost a tight game, 120-115. Joel Embiid had 18 and 13 in 27 minutes (!!!), while Ben Simmons was borderline LeBron-like with 18, 10, 5 and 2 in 34. Markelle Fultz was, somehow, better than expected. And Robert Convington I think just hit another three-pointer from that deep, well-formed shooting pocket of his.

A loss is a loss is a stupid fucking phrase. But consider the Sixers were rolling out units that had literally never played together in a game, and two players who hadn’t yet played an NBA game, and Joel Embiid’s minutes algorithm, and Jahlil Okafor and new free agent signings, and players returning off injury against a well-formed, veteran, experienced team, on the road, and, well, yeah that was impressive. Unless of course you’re from the old school Philly sports mindset, in which case you have to FUCKING HATE EVERYTHING:

It was their first game together. Their three best players had a combined 31 games playing experience. Their point guard was coming off a near season-long injury. Their shooting guard just arrived here. And they were leading at the half against John Wall and the Wizards.

Sure, I get that this might get old if they start 2-10, but let’s give them some time – I don’t know, like A GAME – to gel and get to know each other. JJ, I’m Joel, this is my friend Jahlil. I’m just kidding, nobody likes Jahlil. Want to grab a burger?

 

The A team

Mike Breen – “A FOUL!” – and Jeff Van Gundy calling a Sixers game. God that feels good. No Mark Jackson last night, as Doris Burke joined in the three-man (er, person) booth. She’s great, actually. I like Jackson, too. A good “Mama, there goes that man” gets me horned up for hoops action like no other. Burke gets a full-time color commentator role. But Jackson will remain a part of the A-team once the playoffs come around.

Still, seeing the Sixers get the A-team treatment from ESPN feels good. I can’t imagine this crew has called a Sixers game over the last four years. I’m too lazy to look it up, and don’t know where I would, but suffice it to say, this was rare and, I guess, unexpected. We’ve arrived. And hearing Van Gundy gush over Simmons’ height was something to behold. Otto Porter is 6’8, and Simmons is much taller than him. He might be 7’0! Or hearing Breen remark that Simmons was playing “point center” as the biggest guy on the floor. Yeah, I’m all fucking in on that.

The halftime show, on the other hand…

Delicious.

That group, besides mispronouncing Embiid’s name and not knowing how long he’s been in the league (four years), was hit or miss, though I did appreciate their loss of words at the don’t call it a minutes restriction.

 

Rebranding the minutes restriction

I LOVE how the Sixers have rebranded a “minutes restriction” to call it a “plan.” Nothing escapes the arm of their very large (according to this Philly.com story about their sales and marketing efforts) marketing department.

The last two days have been dominated by coverage of the incorrectly referred to minutes restriction, which, to be fair, was a phrase born more out of media branding than the Sixers themselves (Brown was clear this week that Embiid would have a range and not a hard cap). So what do the Sixers do? Let’s, ah, tweak the phrasing on that.

Brett Brown after the game:

“The rigid… whatever… pick a number. It’s more of a plan that we have this year rather than a restriction.”

And Joel Embiid:

“We gotta stop calling it a minutes restriction. I think the plan is to get out there, play, see how I feel. There’s gonna be some games where I’m gonna be tired… but yeah, we gotta stop calling it a minutes restriction. It’s a plan.”

Got it? Plan. Not a restriction. Or you can call it “fucking bullshit.”

 

Markelle Fultz’s free throw form

Yuck.

But, I thought Fultz actually played well. I think that observation is based partly on the fact that we’ve all reset our expectations with him. He’s not Simmons or Embiid. Few are. Those guys are both freaks in their own regard, and it’s unreasonable to expect any rookie, even the number one pick, to come out and look like a vet like those two guys have. Fultz is not only younger, but certainly more raw. Throw in the fact that he has some sort of shoulder injury and hasn’t been around an NBA coaching staff for 12+ months, and there’s going to be more of a learning curve with him. And despite his -18 number last night, I thought he played quite well. Attacked the rim, defended adequately, and wasn’t a liability out there.

But he’s not going to be the player we expect until he gets comfortable with his shot again. I mean, SHOOOOOOOOOOOT:

He didn’t.

 

Robert Covington

I want to live in his shooting pocket. Just pitch a tent there and have wild sex parties. Everyone’s welcome. He shot lights-out. That pace isn’t sustainable, but him and Redick are a dynamic 1-2 three-point threat. Add in Embiid eventually getting more of his to fall and Fultz, you know, like taking one every once in a while, and that Sixers gravity is going to be full John Mayer.

But new rule: Robert Convington should never put the ball on the floor. Just shoot it or look around and pass. Never dribble.

 

Almost throw it down

This would have broken souls.

 

Travel

Philly fans are the best. How many times did Breen and the rest of the crew comment on the Trust The Process chants? And it didn’t hurt that this guy was wearing a beautiful hoodie:

You can get that right here.

 

So close

I think he meant Markelle Fultz.

 

Embiid is the best

Joel Embiid does not care about your convention.

 

Simmons

Ben Simmons was LeBron-like. The way he moves up the court, passes the ball, drives. It all looks so familiar.

LeBron’s per-36 stats in his NBA debut (he played 42 minutes) were 21, 8, 5 and 3. Last night, Simmons had 18, 10, 5 and 2 in 34 minutes. Not bad.

 

Merch

You know what to do. Right here.

 

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6 Responses

  1. StarCraft got nominated for esports Game of the Year but it will probably lose because its too hard for the little voters who like EZ PZ Overwatch

  2. You don’t need to play together for a time to know how to box out on the defensive end. Gave up way too many offensive rebounds, especially Simmonds.

  3. Kyle was probably sooo pumped about how this awesome post was gonna be received by the readers. 10hrs later there’s 6 comments and 3 of them are about Esports. Would love to be a fly on the wall when the investors get the revenue figures.

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