Posts for Teams Category

Behind The Beat: Robert Hagg Is Making Shayne Gostisbehere Better, and A Defense of Andrew MacDonald

Anthony SanFilippo - October 17, 2017

Each week, Anthony will take you inside the locker room, press box or wherever else he finds himself, with anecdotes, observations, quotes and maybe the occasional barb that he sees or hears while covering the Flyers. I guess you could say, Anthony’s In The Room.

A hockey locker room is always a Petri dish of activity. Different personalities, different routines, and different conversations all collide in one confined space.

It was no different after Flyers practice Monday.

There was Jake Voracek, stroking his Yukon Cornelius beard while cracking up the pool of reporters and cameramen who surrounded his stall.

There was Dale Weiss and Claude Giroux, trying to answer a trivia question posed by Vice President of Public Relations, Zack Hill, about the only teenage hockey players to post 100-point seasons.

(The answer was five by the way – Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux are the obvious ones, then there’s Sidney Crosby, Dale Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson.)

There was Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, with their traditional post-practice pow-wow in the far corner of the room, with Raffl proudly donning his Cleveland Indians baseball hat as he has every day since the beginning of training camp, even though they were eliminated from the playoffs a week ago.

And then there was Robert Hagg. Quiet. Unassuming. Slowly removing his equipment, occasionally looking up to take in the activity around him, but otherwise keeping to himself.

Just a moment earlier, his defensive partner, Shayne Gostisbehere, was holding court with the media. It started off as a conversation with Flyers radio play-by-play guy Tim Saunders and me, but soon he was surrounded by every microphone or camera in the room and being asked about his renewed confidence that has led to an eight-assist start to this season in just five games.

And although he did credit his partner (and we’ll get to that in a bit), no one seemed interested in talking to Hagg.

So I decided to stop him for a chat before he disappeared into the Skate Zone inner sanctum completely unnoticed. Continue Reading

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Brett Brown Says It’s Not Responsible to Expose His Rookies to a “Roadrunner” on Opening Night

Kevin Kinkead - October 17, 2017

Lost in the Joel Embiid “fucking bullshit” minutes restriction Tuesday drama was the fact that the Philadelphia 76ers are playing a regular season basketball game tomorrow.

Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz will be welcomed to the NBA with a road trip against John Wall, Bradley Beal, and a 49-win Washington team that took Boston to seven games in last year’s conference semifinals.

“I mean, you just start with the head of the snake; you better get back in defense,” said Brown of Wednesday night’s matchup. “You’ve got a roadrunner, you’ve got a gazelle in John Wall. It certainly starts there. It might even stop there. Then you get into Beal. You’re dealing with All-Stars and scorers, and you’re especially dealing with a veteran team that has played in the playoffs and has some continuity. I think (Scott Brooks) does a great job with them, you know, that’s a bunch of men that have played deep in the playoffs or had that playoff-hardening experience. I think those types of things come to my mind.”

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Joel Embiid Thinks His Minutes Restriction is “F****** B*******”

Kevin Kinkead - October 17, 2017

Turns out the Sixers beat is pretty easy.

You show up, wait for Joel Embiid to speak, and see what happens.

Today he told reporters that he’s not happy with his minutes restriction.

“That’s fucking bullshit,” the center said. “I wish I was playing more minutes. I think I’m ready for more than whatever number they have. But I don’t know. I wish I was playing more, but we’re gonna see how that goes.”

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Joel Embiid Pranks Fans with The Help of Draft Kings

Kevin Kinkead - October 17, 2017

“Snitches get stitches, so I’m not saying shit!”

Words of wisdom from a trustworthy prank target in Joel Embiid’s latest off-court appearance.

Draft Kings put out a video this morning featuring the Sixers’ center as an on-the-run ex-client who just fired his overbearing agent. Embiid is pretending to hide from his former boss while asking fans to lie for him and keep his location a secret.

Who has JoJo’s back?

See for yourself:

Remember How Horny You Were for Marcus Mariota? That Was Awesome

Philip Keidel - October 17, 2017

Do you remember where you were on April 30, 2015? Do you remember what happened that night, or more specifically, what didn’t happen?

April 30, 2015 was the night the Tennessee Titans selected University of Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota second overall in the NFL Draft. That was also the night that the Titans didn’t trade the #2 overall pick to your Philadelphia Eagles, or to anyone else for that matter.

Absent context, the Titans’ decision was fairly unsurprising and conventional. Franchise quarterbacks are notoriously hard to come by, and Mariota was an undisputed, can’t-miss prospect even considering that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Florida State’s Jameis Winston just ahead of him.

In Philadelphia sports history, though, context is everything.

The 2014 Eagles were coached by Chip Kelly, erstwhile Oregon head ball coach and the man who had created the offensive system that made Mariota so devastating as a Duck. That 2014 Eagles team posted a second consecutive 10-6 season; like other 10-6 Eagles teams before it, that squad missed the playoffs.

Still, Kelly was cresting a wave of exuberance and enthusiasm, and had absolute power in the spring of 2015 after Eagles general manager Howie Roseman (remember him?) was stripped of his title to give Kelly the keys. Continue Reading

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The Silver Lining of Markelle Fultz Coming off the Bench

Kevin Love - October 16, 2017

For some, the news was almost as big of a letdown as the revelation that Ben Simmons would miss the 2016-2017 season:

When Markelle Fultz’s name was called on June 22, it felt like the culmination of the Process, Part 1. (Indeed, the Process ends not. It only enters new phases.) The Sixers constructed their big three. With a franchise-altering center and the new age Magic Johnson, Fultz was the final piece of a soon-to-be dynasty. Labeled the perfect fit, Markelle appeared to be a lock to start alongside Simmons.

And so, when news broke this weekend that Fultz will not begin the season in the starting lineup, it only made sense for Sixers fans to be perplexed and worried. Number one overall picks rarely ever start the season from the bench. Number one overall picks don’t secretly change their shooting motion at their own discretion. Number one overall picks don’t take a backseat to… Jerryd Bayless?

The trading of Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel..

The seemingly wasted draft pick of Jahlil Okafor (Prokafor or Nokafor, we all know that he’ll never provide this team the value that a third overall pick should)..

The waiting for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons…

All of this has bred the great fans of this franchise to expect disappointment and despair at every turn. It’s only natural to feel panic over Fultz when a handful of the players selected after him will be starting this week.

Yet the abilities that have projected Fultz as the ideal complement to Simmons haven’t eroded. And Brett Brown is making the right call in bringing Fultz off the bench to start the season. Believing in that alone may not convert a skeptic. There’s no denying the frustration of the situation. But good things come to those who wait, and there are underlying benefits to easing Fultz into the starting lineup.

Remember, Brown will be asking both Simmons and Fultz to share the ball to a degree. In college, Fultz showed the ability to play without the ball in his hands, but it’s not something he’s had to do often. For Simmons, even less so. To take the ball out of their hands at this moment of their careers is asking them to do something counter to their instincts. Continue Reading

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Sixers Notes: Joel Embiid Will Start the Season on a Minutes Restriction

Kevin Kinkead - October 16, 2017

It seemed inevitable that Joel Embiid would not be fully unleashed to begin the regular season, but that news was confirmed on Monday.

Sixers head coach Brett Brown was asked after practice what he had in mind for Embiid’s minutes ahead of opening night.

“I don’t really know if there’s a solid number,” Brown said. “I can tell you, if you were to choose a number, it’s somewhere in the teens. I think one of the things we’re doing this year, unlike previous years, is that there’s a little bit of a looseness in relation to (the idea that it) doesn’t need to be rigid if the game doesn’t dictate some tracking. What I told everybody is, when you study NBA rules -and I’m assuming everybody did their homework and knows that the rules have changed, timeouts aren’t as frequent, and timeouts are shorter – this is like I’m coaching in the London Olympic Games again. The game moves. I can have guys at the scorer’s table for two minutes with no stoppage. Sometimes the torrid pace of a game doesn’t favor Joel. You get flying up and down (the court). So the minute thing, we’re going to learn more about that. There will be some minute restrictions but it’s also a judgment of how is the game being played, not just looking at a rote, rigid number.”

Brown said he “would guess so” when asked if it might be difficult for Embiid to get to 30 minutes per game early in the season, but deferred that query to the medical staff.

Embiid seemed like he didn’t know about the restriction when he spoke about 20 minutes after Brown, unless he was joking around with the media.

“Ah shit, I didn’t know about that, but that’s very disappointing.” said Embiid. “I feel great and hopefully that changes based on today’s practice and tomorrow’s practice. I felt good in the Miami game. I played what, 14 minutes in the first half? I felt like I could have played 30 minutes. Felt good. So I think it’s coming. I’m still not there, but my body is getting in better shape and I feel great.”

Embiid did not practice Sunday but was a full participant Monday. He was held out yesterday for left knee rehabilitation and a left ankle sprain, the latter of which shouldn’t be an issue. The Sixers center said he stepped on an opponent’s foot in the Miami game.

Regarding medical clearance, Embiid spoke a few weeks back about the idea of having a say in the decision making process. While he’s more than happy to lean on the Sixers’ medical staff, he wants to make sure that the trust factor is a two-way street.

“I’ve got a voice. They’ve gotta listen to me,” he said. “It depends how I feel. If I feel great, if my body feels good, and my knee is fine, then I should play 30 minutes or more. I’m definitely gonna have my opinion on that and I’m sure they’re going to hear me and we’re going to discuss it, but at the same time I trust them. I trust the doctors, and even if I feel good, they’ll have a plan behind it. I guess you’ve just got to trust the process.”

“They call me the social media king”

Joel was asked about his weekend Twitter exchange with Hassan Whiteside, a brief carryover from their Friday night matchup in Kansas City. Embiid drew three early fouls on the Miami big man, then motioned for Eric Spoelstra to pull Whiteside from the game.

That prompted this:

 

Embiid laughed off the social media jabs Monday:

That exchange is good for a few laughs. I think they actually like each other. It’s just two guys talking smack.

Anyhow, in something completely unrelated, Embiid disagreed with the notion that Brett Brown might shave his beard.

“I gotta talk him into keeping that. That’s a bad idea.”

Markelle Fultz mechanics-gate

Rookie Markelle Fultz worked with a second unit on Monday that included T.J. McConnell, Dario Saric, Justin Anderson, and Amir Johnson. The first unit was Embiid, Ben Simmons, Robert Covington. Jerryd Bayless, and JJ Redick.

Brown admitted last week that Fultz would start the season coming off the bench, and doubled down on that idea today, because he doesn’t want to put the number one overall pick in a difficult situation.

“This league is driven by men,” he explained. “This league is driven by veterans. And when you put a rookie out there that hasn’t had the foundation and the preparation, you know, Markelle has missed a lot of the preseason, both in training camp and in games. So, to just put him in that environment is, I think, poor coaching. And I’m not doing it. So, when that time comes, and how we move him along, there’s no book that tells you how to do this. We’re going to figure it out, but the endgame needs to be developing Markelle Fultz.”

As far as Fultz’s shot, Brown reiterated that the Washington product isn’t leaning on his injured shoulder as an excuse for the mechanical experimentation, but admitted that there is a correlation.

“The shoulder none of us can dismiss,” Brown said. “You don’t go from one shot, one day, and to a progression of what we’re looking at. As the shoulder heals, and we get him back to some of the form we saw, it’ll come back. Right now it’s a work in progress. I think the other parts of his game are really quite good. He’s focused on moving his feet and he’s focused on moving without the ball. He still gets where we wants to go on an NBA court, but (the shot) is what everybody pays attention to because it is a bit different than it used to be.”

The only other note from training is that Jahlil Okafor was absent due to gastrointestinal illness. Richaun Holmes is still out with a left wrist fracture.

You Can Now Sign A Petition To Keep Pete Morelli Away From The Eagles

BWanksCB - October 16, 2017

I generally like to watch Eagles games from the comfort of my own home. I want to be able to hear, and then destroy, subpar broadcast teams that use tired clichés and serve up platitudes like, “I gotta tell ya, Mark, Darren Sproles might be little in stature, but this guy has a BIG HEART.” You know how this goes. Then the other guy in the booth will finish the tag team verbal fellatio before they finally get around to the next play. You just can’t hear it as well at the bar. I also stay out of bars for the games because I don’t need to hear some jackass wearing a David Akers jersey scream, “Run the ball!” after an incomplete pass. Four minutes later he’s screaming “Throw it!” when a run play goes nowhere. Really, more than anything, I like to be able to pay close attention to who’s playing well and who’s not, so I know exactly who to blame when shit hits the fan. I tell you all of this because Thursday night was my 32nd birthday, and I made the extremely rare decision of having my friends meet up at a local bar where the game audio was impossible to hear. In the end, we picked the right game. It was obviously a monster win, with a dramatic finish and a game that gave the assembled crowd a lot to cheer about. Still, there was one major annoyance that virtually every single person, including some who undoubtedly aren’t too well versed in football, noticed throughout the night. Everybody had the same exact reaction to it:

“What the fuck is the deal with these refs?”

You know the story by now. The Eagles were hit with 10 penalties for 126 yards, while the Panthers had one penalty for one yard. Calls of anti-Eagles bias were immediate, and, upon further review, possibly true. It turns out that over the past four Eagles games Morelli has officiated, the Eagles have drawn 40 penalties for 396 yards, while their opponents were flagged only eight times for 74 yards. That’s a pretty jarring discrepancy, and, because Eagles fans are insane, they’ve created a Change.org petition asking Roger Goodell to ensure Morelli never gets a chance to fuck them again:

NFL Referee Pete Morelli has a clear and statistically obvious bias against the Philadelphia Eagles…This is unacceptable and puts the Philadelphia Eagles at a disadvantage. Preventing Morelli from refereeing Eagles games will result in a more trustworthy and honest NFL. This will benefit the entire league and keep all claims of conspiracy to a normal level.

You know who told me about (and also signed) this petition? MY MOM. Her football observations are typically limited to insightful takes such as, “I like when the green team makes touchdowns.”

So I had a birthday dinner over at my parents last night. She turns to me right before we eat and says matter-of-factly, “How about that game on Thursday night? I wanted to KILL that referee so bad. I signed a petition I saw on Facebook. Screw that guy,” right before we joined hands and said grace. It was a very wholesome family moment. So if you want to let off some steam directed at Pete Morelli by way of an online petition that will almost certainly go unread by the league office… well, now you can.

I love Eagles fans. They’re the best.