Sixers' 3-point shooting has been fantastic

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Sixers' 3-point shooting has been fantastic

The Philadelphia 76ers won a basketball game that they probably shouldn't have last night, beating the Jazz in Utah, 104-97. Joel Embiid was a DNP -- Been Too Long Since the Last One, and Ben Simmons shot 7-22 with as many turnovers as assists. But they won, the way they've won all season. They passed the ball (23 assists, actually below their 26.2 average), and they shot the three (12-27 from deep). And now they're 6-4, tied for the East's third best record. Love is strange. 

The shooting -- third-best from range in the league, if you can believe it, with the fifth-most makes on average -- is the starkest part of the Sixers' success this season. (Besides the whole, y'know, having two future superstars thing.) A franchise that has historically lacked for floor-stretching -- comically so at times, particularly in the later years of the Doug Collins era and the pre-adolescence of The Process -- is now one of the great bombs-away threats of the entire Association.

Here's five quick stats that should drive home the lunacy of all this.

-The Sixers haven't had a rotation regular shoot over 40% from three since Hollis Thompson (40.1%) in 2014-15. Through 11 games this year, they have five: JJ Redick (43.4%), Jerryd Bayless (42.2%), Robert Covington (50%), T.J. McConnell (50%) and Dario Saric (40.9%). 

-The Sixers already have six games where they've made 12 or more triples. In 2013-14, the first season of The Process, they had four such games all season. 

-Only one 76er has ever hit 200 threes in a season: Kyle Korever (226) in 2004-05. Both J.J. Redick and Robert Covington are on pace to beat that mark this year. 

-Only five players in the NBA have hit 35 threes so far this season. Of those, Robert Covington's 50% rate is easily the highest. (Klay Thompson is second at 45.9%.)

-The 76ers have shot over 35% from deep for a season just six times, with the best season coming in 1994-1995 -- otherwise known as the Dana Barros season -- at 37.9%. They're currently shooting 39.9%. 

Wild. Just wait till JoJo starts hitting 'em.

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

Eagles releasing Mychal Kendricks the right thing to do

For the past two years, the Eagles kept Mychal Kendricks in a state of limbo. It was about time the team set him free.

The Eagles didn’t release Kendricks on Tuesday simply because it was “the right thing to do” — if there was such a thing in this instance. They did it because the move will save $6 million against the salary cap in 2018. They did it because Corey Nelson is a cheaper alternative. They did it because Kendricks isn’t an ideal fit for Jim Schwartz’s scheme. They did it because, evidently, they couldn’t find a trade partner.

In short, the Eagles released Kendricks because the 27-year-old linebacker wasn’t worth $16-plus million over the next two seasons. That really should be enough.

It was also about time the Eagles put Kendricks out of his misery. He made no secret about being unhappy with his reduced role since Schwartz became defensive coordinator, asking the team to either cut him or move him last offseason. The subject of trade rumors annually since 2015, Kendricks probably hadn’t felt comfortable about his standing with the organization for quite awhile.

At what point are the Eagles holding him hostage?

Good thing the club didn’t oblige Kendricks’ request last year, as he wound up filling in for the injured Jordan Hicks and playing a pivotal part in the Eagles’ Super Bowl run. Some see that as evidence the team made a mistake in letting a six-year veteran with 78 career NFL starts to walk away for nothing.

While it’s true Kendricks came up big in 2017, he wasn’t exactly an impact player for the Eagles, finishing the season with four tackles for loss and two sacks in 18 games, including playoffs. He hasn’t forced a fumble since 2015. He hasn’t recorded an interception since 2013. And rushing the passer, arguably his greatest strength, goes almost completely unutilized in Schwartz’s scheme, which sent Kendricks after opposing quarterbacks just eight times all year, according to Pro Football Focus.

Numbers may not do Kendricks’ campaign justice, but typically more would be expected of somebody who was set to carry a $7.6 million cap figure into ’18.

The Eagles also feel they are in better shape now in terms of depth at the position (see story).

Kendricks’ days appeared to be numbered the moment the club signed Nelson and the free-agent addition declared he would compete for the starting weakside linebacker job. It’s unclear whether the Eagles are putting too much faith in the former Denver Broncos reserve and the host of linebacker prospects already on the roster. Regardless, the team likes its options.

So why force Kendricks to stick around? From the team’s standpoint, it was a lot of money for the level of production, for not being a great scheme fit and given his impending return to the bench. The Eagles were wise to keep him around for one more year, but with other arrangements since made, moving on now doesn’t sting as much.

The fact Kendricks was anything less than thrilled to be back only makes it easier. After handling his displeasure like a pro last season, then helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl championship, granting his release seems like the least the team could do.

Joel Embiid takes shot at Aron Baynes on Twitter

Joel Embiid takes shot at Aron Baynes on Twitter

With the Sixers eliminated, Joel Embiid was asked at his end-of-the-season press conference if he had a prediction for which remaining team would win the NBA championship.

His response was short and simple.

"Nah," he said, "I don't care."

However, Embiid looks like he's still keeping some tabs on the NBA postseason.

And, watching from afar, he's apparently not too impressed with Aron Baynes.

If you recall, during the Eastern Conference semifinals series in which the Sixers fell to the Celtics in five games, Embiid and Baynes had their moments.

Lots of physicality. A few minor scuffles. And this monster dunk by Embiid.

That's probably what the Sixers' big man was referring to when he tweeted Monday night during Game 4 of the Cavaliers-Celtics series.

Could this play have prompted the tweet?

Baynes probably isn't focused on Embiid or Twitter right now in the heat of the Eastern Conference Finals, but maybe he'll be asked about the tweet during media availability sessions before the series goes to Game 5 Wednesday.

The 31-year-old from New Zealand, a role player not known for tons of offense but with a championship ring, can become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. We'll have to see where he plays next season, but let's hope some matchups with Embiid are in the near future.