The700Level

Are Sixers veterans hurting more than helping?

Are Sixers veterans hurting more than helping?

Notice how whenever the Philadelphia 76ers are missing one player in a game this season, it looks like they spend the whole game scrambling to plug up that hole (and end up leaving new holes elsewhere in the process)? It wasn't supposed to be like that this year. 

This was the season we were going to finally have depth, wasn't it? I remember doing those opening night roster exercises and smiling at how the Sixers legitimately went three deep at every position. But this December, you look around at the team and when one or two guys are out, you aren't sure if there are three left that you totally trust. 

Of course, there are reasons for this. We did a two-for-one trade of Nik Stauskas and Jahlil Okafor for Trevor Booker, and now Booker is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain. Furkan Kormaz busted his foot. Markelle Fultz is permanently three weeks away from being three weeks away. Other rookies are either overseas or not ready yet. A couple dings here and there and depth dissolves a lot faster than you realize. 

But the Sixers' front office has also largely failed this roster in giving them vets that provide stability and reliable late-game playmaking. I don't want to be too tough on JJ Redick, who has had some spectacular fourth quarters for Philly this season, but also some miserable, fumbly, head-scratching stretch runs. Last night against the Chicago Bulls was certainly among the latter group for JJ, as he had two bad turnovers and didn't even take a shot in the final five minutes, as the Sixers choked away an eight-point lead with under four to go and ultimately lost 117-115. 

The real problem is with Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless, who as Sean O'Connor pointed out repeatedly on Twitter last night, are being paid a combined $20 million this year and are downright unplayable at times. Johnson was leaden last night, putting up just 4 and two in 14 minutes and ultimately proving unable to hang with the ball-swinging, sweet-shooting, perimeter-focused Bulls offense. Bayless looked like he was on his way to heroism in the fourth, converting a four-point play to put Philly up nine, but then he bricked three straight wide open kill-shot triples to potentially put the game on ice (or at least on some sort of cold compression pack) and got burned badly on a crucial defensive possession in the final minute that ended in an open Bulls three.

It's been a common outcry for Sixers fans this season: How are we losing games because of our vets? For the most part, our young guys played well enough to win in this one, even late: Dario Saric in particular had his best game of the season (27 and 8) and was absolutely brilliant down the stretch, keeping the Sixers in it offense, while Ben Simmons and T.J. McConnell made countless huge plays on both sides of the ball. But Bayless and Redick got big minutes late and they largely fumbled the game away for Philly. It's been very frustrating, especially when the Sixers don't have a ton of other options to turn to: Brown's only alternatives are to play our young guys unsustainably huge minutes or look to the very end of a not-that-deep bench for unlikely relief. 

Hopefully it won't have to be like this all season: Fultz's healthy return would undoubtedly help, as would at least one of Korkmaz and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot proving consistently playable. But in the meantime, it's Don't Trust Anyone Over 25, and it's on the Colangelos a little for spending so much money on veteran players who thusfar haven't been the reliable Know-How-to-Win fixtures to help our young guys reach their potential, but rather vets our prospects have to hope can just hold the line and not cost them a shot at securing the game themselves.

T.O. unplugged on Twitter

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AP Images

T.O. unplugged on Twitter

Terrell Owens is never one to hold his tongue. Or in this case, his fingers.

Answering fans’ Twitter questions on Friday night, the former Eagles wide receiver and Hall of Fame finalist opened up about several topics.

Things started off relatively tame, as T.O. was asked about playing for Andy Reid and the coach’s inability to win the big game.

Things took a turn when Owens’ Philadelphia exit — and the person he felt was behind it, who went unnamed, (Donovan McNabb) — was brought up.

… And his feelings on Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.

However, Owens’ former San Francisco 49ers head coach, Steve Mariucci, got it the worst. Or maybe he’s just the worst.

At least Owens made it clear that despite playing for five teams during his NFL career, he will always bleed green.

Zach Ertz reveals secret origins of the dog mask

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USA Today Images

Zach Ertz reveals secret origins of the dog mask

Dog mask mania has swept through Philadelphia ever since Lane Johnson and Chris Long donned the creepy masks following the Eagles' divisional round win over the Falcons. We know why the duo wore them but where in the world did they get the idea?

Well, thanks to Zach Ertz — and his article on The Players' Tribune — we now have the answer.

The Friday before the game, Long, Johnson, Ertz, Jason Kelce and Brent Celek were having dinner when Johnson just couldn't contain his excitement for the idea.

“You know how everyone keeps saying we’re underdogs?" Johnson said. "Even though we’re the No. 1 seed? Well … we were on Amazon last night, and we ordered these dog masks.

“Yeah, and when we win, because we’re gonna freaking win, we’re going to do everything in the masks. Media. Postgame. Everything. Dogs.”

And the rest is history. The dog masks have become a must-own for Eagles fans — if you managed to buy one before they sell out that is. The Linc will surely be filled with tens of thousands of rabid German shepherds. But will Long and Johnson get to gloat in the masks postgame again? 

For the full origin story of the masks and a ridiculous Carson Wentz story, read Ertz's full article here.