The700Level

Keep shooting, Ben Simmons

Keep shooting, Ben Simmons

Sixers point guard Ben Simmons wound up with a double-double almost by accident in Tuesday’s 104-97 win over the Jazz. It wasn’t the most sparkling performance, with a line of 16 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks bogged down somewhat by five fouls and six turnovers. Simmons was a marvel all the same.

Plus, Simmons’ shot chart from the contest is a thing of beauty – absolutely no sarcasm intended.

Simmons was only 7 of 22 shooting from the field for the game, and five of those buckets were dunks or layups. That means he was 2 of 17 from everywhere else. Take away a couple of hooks that wouldn’t go, and a desperation heave while the shot clock was winding down, and Simmons still only shot 14.3 percent from eight feet and beyond.

Yet the two shots Simmons made – a 15-foot jumper and a 13-foot pull-up – were important, and not merely because they were good for four points in a tight game.

If Simmons a threat to hit that shot at all, opponents will have to respect it.

That’s what started to happen as the game wore on against the Jazz. Oftentimes, defenders will sag off of Simmons around the foul line and dare him to shoot. But as he continued to shoot, more and more, defenders came out to contest it.

Knocking one or two down earlier certainly didn’t hurt, either.

Perhaps the larger and more imperative development here is Simmons was taking so many midrange shots and shots outside the restricted area in the first place. Excluding backcourt shots, the 21-year-old has attempted 49 field goals from eight to 24 feet in 10 games. Thirteen of those alone, or more than a quarter, came against the Jazz.

Obviously, Simmons’ percentage needs to rise for that jump shot to become a true asset to his game. For right now at least, even the threat of shooting can affect the defense. He was a little unlucky, too, as there were a few shots that rimmed out or were just a little heavy – touch he’ll hone with experience.

Simmons also won’t turn into a better shooter if he never works on it or takes a shot in a meaningful NBA game. Maybe the promising aspect of all is the simple fact that over the past couple games, he does appear to be making a more concerted effort to pull up once in awhile. Earlier in the year, he seemed almost afraid to shoot.

As incredible as he is, Simmons needs to shoot if he wants to prevent teams from sitting on his drive, which is a big part of what makes him so special in the first place. So keep firing, Ben. It wasn’t always pretty, but seeing an increased willingness to put the ball up is a positive sign.

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.