The700Level

Sixers finally lose a first half (and then a whole basketball game)

Sixers finally lose a first half (and then a whole basketball game)

My favorite random streak of 2018: the Philadelphia 76ers had won 11 consecutive first halves going into last night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, dating back to the end of last December. They were 8-3 at the end of four over that stretch, but always leading at the break -- usually by a decent amount. The Sixers had been getting off to reliably hot starts, and though they couldn't always maintain, it was encouraging to know that the Sixers at their freshest and loosest were reliably better than the competition. 

Another, not coincidental common factor in those 11 games: Joel Embiid played in all of 'em, a career-best stretch of consecutive games for JoJo. It seemed possible he would make it 12 last night in Milwaukee, and notch he first back-to-back of his brief NBA resume, but he was ruled out shortly before the game, having played too many minutes Sunday against Oklahoma City. (He'll supposedly make his back-to-back debut later in the week at home against the Heat and Pacers.) The Sixers still got out to an early lead against the Bucks, but without Embiid (and with Ben Simmons in early foul trouble), the Sixers couldn't hold it until the break, losing the first half 55-53 -- and then after another two, dropping the whole thing, 107-95. 

You most saw Embiid's absence in the cramped spacing for our three-point shooters, who went an unsightly 2-26 from deep in this one -- including our two most reliable current bombers Robert Covington and Dario Saric combining to hit one in 16 tries. The Bucks started hitting their own daggers from deep in the third quarter, and the Sixers were unable to crawl back -- despite another fairly strong from Ben Simmons, who went for 16-7-5 on 7-10 shooting, with excellent defense on Bucks MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo most of the night. 

It's a forgivable loss -- and considering the Sixers hosted the Bucks without Giannis earlier in the month, it seems only fair we should return the favor of spotting 'em Embiid in this one. Unfortunately, it does drop the Sixers to 24-23 and the eighth seed -- a position which got a little less secure yesterday with the surprise trade of Clippers All-Star forward to the ninth-place Detroit Pistons. I'm not sure Blake makes Detroit that much better -- they had to give up a couple starters to get him, its tough to integrate new guys like that mid-season, and he's been injured and hampered in effectiveness for most of his season / recent career -- but at the very least it means they're not throwing in the towel on the season, so the Sixers are gonna have to continue their winning January ways to fend 'em off in the months ahead. 

The good news? Life is about to get a whole lot easier for the Liberty Ballers. After a quick stop in Brooklyn tomorrow night, the team gets six of their next seven at home heading into the All-Star break, and the toughest team they play in that stretch -- or all of February, for that matter -- is the Miami Heat. Not that we get a ton of cupcake games either -- those are mostly coming in March and April -- but they're teams the Sixers should be able to beat, and ones we can possibly even pass in the East standings if things break our way (and if Joel can actually now do both halves of back to backs, which we have two more of before the break). The hard, non-health-related part of the season's over, and we went 7-4 over it. #SixersJanuary forever.

The Eagles won the Super Bowl! So how come I’m not happy?

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The Eagles won the Super Bowl! So how come I’m not happy?

It’s now been two weeks since the Eagles finally won their first Super Bowl. In that time, I’ve re-watched the game five times, re-watched the parade 15 times, and purchased six Super Bowl champions t-shirts, four sweatshirts and five hats. And that’s just from the next morning.

We won, like I’ve always wanted. We’re Super Bowl champs. It wasn’t a dream. I was led to believe that once the impossible happened and we reached the promised land, I'd have nothing more to worry about, ever again. 

So how come I’m still not happy?

I’ll tell you why: It’s because of Cris Collinsworth’s bias. And the unfair coverage of our celebrations; the national media won’t tell you this, but once the Super Bowl was over, not a single Eagles fan punched a horse.

There were the ridiculous crowd-size estimates. And Mike Francesa objecting to Jason Kelce’s language and calling for him to be cut. And the oddsmakers putting our Super Bowl odds below the Patriots’.  And Duracell, for that tweet about Philly fans throwing batteries. Disgraceful. From now on, I’m only throwing Energizers. I’ve also yet to hear an apology from Donovan McNabb, Andy Reid or Joe Banner for not winning us a Super Bowl before now.

At the parade, as we all remember, Jason Kelce sang “no one likes us, we don’t care!” But he was wrong. I care.

Maybe I’m not used to the feeling yet. Maybe it’s because I’ve been chasing this my whole life, and at this point, what else is there to chase? Maybe this sort of existential despair is what I’ve been fearing all along.

Nah, who am I kidding. It’s Cris Collinsworth.

Anyway, here’s my solution for the quarterback thing: Play Carson Wentz, AND Nick Foles. At the same time. Defenses won’t know what hit them, and besides, I’ve got a feeling if it comes down to it, Foles would make a hell of a wide receiver.

So don’t trade Foles. But DO trade Nate Sudfeld. I bet Cleveland would give up a 1 and a 4.

Other Philly sports takes:

- I’ll tell you what, Markelle Fultz caught a break. If not for the Eagles making a Super Bowl run and winning, he’d be all we had to talk about for the past month.

- The Michael Carter-Williams trade was three years ago this week, and let me tell you, I’m still mad about that.

- Jason Kelce appeared in Clearwater for the start of the Phillies’ spring training this week. I just wish he’d go through the entire Phils roster and list everyone’s faults and weaknesses.

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Mike Francesa admits to not really knowing what he was talking about with Kelce's speech

Mike Francesa admits to not really knowing what he was talking about with Kelce's speech

Mike Francesa probably wears flip flops in the city in the middle of winter.

The former radio host absolutely tore into Jason Kelce last week for his legendary speech on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Francesa even went so far as to say Jeff Lurie should cut Kelce for it.

Now, Francesa did a total 180 on it. 

Just to refresh, here's what he said last week:

“Should have stayed home, the jerk," Francesa begins on Kelce. "Why is that I have to be in my car when these guys win championships, and they decide that they are going to grace the audience with this profanity-laced stupidity. You gotta turn it off, your kids can’t even listen it. He sounded like a total moron. How about going up there and acting like a champion and not acting like a total moron? I turn that stuff off. I’ve seen LeBron James do that, now I’ve seen him do that. You know what? It’s not the time or place. You ever heard of winning like a champion? Somebody should have taken a hook and pulled him off.”

And here's what he had to say today as a guest on Angelo Cataldi's morning show on 94 WIP:

Bottom line is, I went back last night and watched the thing in its entirety, and I have to say, it was not as bad as I thought it was when I watched it and got to see it. I wish he hadn’t used any profanity because it would have been a classic, it was really well done, he did a great job. I thought it was one that would last and could be used a long time. I know it’s popular in Philly even with the profanity but to me those are such special moments that I wish they would raise their level. I’d like to see them do it so they can be used time and time again. Take the profanity out of it.

No. 1, I overreacted. I wouldn’t cut him. I take that back, I apologize to Kelce for that. No. 2, it was not as bad as I thought. I just wish he had raised his vocabulary a little. That was a great speech. He did a great job. 

"Should have stayed home, the jerk!" to "That was a great speech. He did a great job." Okay.

I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem.

You can listen to the full interview here.