Nov 17 2014

Spurs Beat Sixers; Sky Is Blue

Philadelphia 76ers 75 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 San Antonio Spurs
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | -4While defensively he’s definitely a useful rotation player, his offense is, well, not the best. Often times he ends up spotting up from mid-range or getting looks from long range in transition and for the most part it doesn’t end well. K.J. should be cracking the starting lineup regularly soon(ish), in which case we’ll be seeing LRMAM more in moderation. But, until then…yikes.

Henry Sims, C 28 MIN | 3-6 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -15We couldn’t have expected much more against the defending champs, but Sims City continues to be a negative on defense. He was, however, less shot-happy offensively and played more with his back to the basket, which is encouraging, seeing as his mid-range game is less reliable than his inside game (44 percent vs. 63.6 percent in the restricted area this season).

Hollis Thompson, SG 26 MIN | 1-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -33We’ll always have Preseason Holliswood. Playing more with MCW should help him get more spot-up opportunities, but he’s been brutal thus far, having now plummeted below 39 percent shooting through 10 games.

Nerlens Noel, PF 25 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -7Nerlens struggled to get touches tonight, a common product of inhabiting the same paint that Tim Duncan patrols. But he hustled hard for some boards late, which is the only way he can rebound at this level right now with his slender frame, so that was promising.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 30 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | -5McDubs looked comfortable with the ball in his hands for the first time since his return last week, showing flashes of an improved floater we saw here and there late last season. Look for him to return the starting lineup as Philly heads home this week.

By the Numbers

17 – Years of NBA experience for Tim Duncan.

16 – Years of NBA experience for entire Sixers roster.

Tweet of the Game

Parting Shots

Even when the Sixers pulled within 10 early in the fourth quarter, this game was the longest of long shots. With a brutal Texas road trip now in the rearview mirror, Philly can take a deep breath and head home for a, *gulp*, winnable game against Boston on Wednesday.

Nov 16 2014

Four #LukeWarmSportsTakes on the Sixers’ 0-9 Start

Your basketball team is bad. Get used to it.

1) Fluke, or future?

As I touched on a bit here, the first few weeks of the NBA season are somewhat of a feeling-out process. Most teams need more than a month of meaningless exhibition games to get back into a rhythm, which allows up-and-down squads to pull off upsets, or in the Sixers’ case, keep games close.

Given that, we might have to start considering that the first six games (all competitive losses) were as fluky as the blowouts against Toronto (120-88) and Dallas (123-70). Sure, the Sixers played poorly, and were victimized by variance in those defeats. But when a weak squad has an off night against an elite team that’s firing on all cylinders, 40-point losses happen. Just ask the Nuggets and Rubio/Thad-less Timberwolves.

The Sixers responded on Friday by nearly defeating the Rockets, and that result shouldn’t surprise us either. Sometimes they’ll get blown out. Sometimes, they’ll lose heartbreakers. And they might even win the occasional game. It’s an 82-game season. Shit happens.

2) This is (currently) the NBA’s worst personnel 

In terms of raw and undeveloped talent, there are certainly teams that are worse off than Philadelphia (cough-LAKERS-cough). But here are two points worth considering:

1) Only six players[1]who were on the Sixers at the end of last season are currently on the roster. Continuity matters in the NBA, and it would be foolish to expect any positive production from an undeveloped team with a defensive scheme as complex as Philly’s after such a large roster turnover.

2) And if you expected the additions of K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel or the development of Michael Carter-Williams to translate into more wins, think again.[2] Noel and McDaniels – although both thrilling players – are still just 20 and 21 respectively and far from learning their NBA roles offensively. While they may be good for 3.3 collective blocks per game, expecting them to produce right away would be naïve.

Additionally, Michael Carter-Williams just had a seven-month break from organized basketball. I’d be hesitant to expect a major leap in the early part of the season, as he missed crucial development time while sitting out the summer and will probably take a while to get his legs back under him.

3) This defensive scheme is really hard to learn

Wesley does a great job detailing the Sixers’ defense here; basically, the core of the system (although not exclusively, depending on the opponent, on-court personnel, etc.) is to pack the paint by zoning up on pick-and-rolls[3] down the middle, while bringing in strong-side wing defenders to help off the 3-point line. Opposing pick-and-rolls (or any action penetrating the middle of the floor) will ideally be met with a packed paint, and the strong-side defenders will have to recover to the arc if need be.

Not only is this defensive system physically tolling on the wings, but it also requires quick thinking and sharp instincts. Wing defenders have to know how deeply into the paint they should help and how far they can cheat off their man; reacting even a half-second late can lead to a wide-open shot for the offense. It’s bad enough that the Sixers’ newest roster additions had to digest this system over the course of training camp and preseason, but even the team’s veterans (and I use that term lightly) are still finding their way with this scheme.

Here’s an example of a miscommunication between Hollis Thompson (#31) and Henry Sims (#35). Thompson leaves his man, Chandler Parsons, to fall back in the paint and pick up a rolling Tyson Chandler; Sims quickly recovers and picks up Chandler, but before Thompson realizes it, Parsons is already standing unguarded at the 3-point line. The Mavs’ big free agent acquisition sank the shot and gave his team a 78-29 lead.

Hollis isn’t the only second-year Sixer that’s still making these little mistakes, and it doesn’t help that coach Brett Brown keeps switching the pick-and-roll coverage depending on the opponent. Watch here as Davies (#0) attempts to trap the pick-and-roll rather than zoning up, which eventually leads to an open Terrance Ross 3.

It’s unclear whether Davies blitzed here because he confused the coverage or if Brown actually called for the trap, but I suspect his assignment should’ve been to drop back since none of the wings rotated over as they typically would in a trapping scheme. By not dropping back, Davies gave Chuck Hayes a clear path to the basket, which forced Chris Johnson to cheat off of Ross and protect the paint. This play could’ve been salvaged had Jakarr Sampson rotated over to Ross and Davies sprinted over to James Johnson in the corner, but that communication was never made.

And that’s the key word: communication. There has been little of it thus far, and the defense is suffering as a result. Everybody needs to be on the same page for the Sixers defense to work. Like many defensive schemes, it operates on a string, and even the slightest misstep can lead to a total collapse.

Thompson and K.J. McDaniels do a great job of icing the side screen-and-roll here, but a miscommunication between Sims and Mbah a Moute leads to a wide-open Dirk Nowitzki. It happened because Sims was supposed to be the “two nine” guy[4] here; he was right to stay in the paint in case Chandler found a route to the basket, but Mbah a Moute starts moving to the paint to stop a rolling Chandler rather than sticking to his position at the nail.[5] Sims fails in trying to tell Mbah a Moute to pick up Nowitzki at the top of the key and starts running to pick up the blown rotation, but it’s already too late.

So as you can see, the Sixers have talent (and athletes) but  are having a hard time learning the system. It may get better as the season progresses, but it won’t happen overnight.

4) Take this team for what it is

I’ll try to keep the takes only lukewarm here. No, these crushing blowouts aren’t going to derail the Sixers’ plan. This was a team that was supposed to be bad, so of course they’ll suffer the occasional ass-kicking when they play the league’s top tier teams.

But even when the wins are few and far between, this’ll still be a fun team to watch. K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel make defense exciting. Michael Carter-Williams’ is one of the league’s most intriguing projects. Tony Wroten makes a play or two a night that will make you fall out of your chair (for better or for worse). Brandon Davies might be the Second Coming.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy this season. We haven’t yet reached the point where wins and losses matter. We’ll have to wait a couple years until there’s a result worth freaking out about.

All video courtesy of NBA.com


[1] Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Brandon Davies, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, and (technically) Nerlens Noel.

[2] Even Kevin Durant couldn’t help his team win games his first two years in the league; the reasons are debatable, but in 2007-08 and 08-09, the Sonics/Thunder actually performed worse when their rising star was on the floor.

[3] Meaning that it sends the ball handler’s defender over the screen while the roll man’s defender drops back into the paint.

[4] “Two nine” in this situation refers to the big man who is supposed to patrol the paint in case any action is made toward the basket (the name “two nine” comes from the 2.9 seconds he can spend alone in the paint before being called for a defensive three second violation). Doug Eberhardt at SB Nation does an extensive breakdown of this concept here.

[5] The “nail” refers to a literal nail or indentation found in the middle of the free throw line on any basketball court, which also happens to be the position where weak-side defenders should position themselves when teams ice pick-and-rolls. Once again, Doug Eberhardt does an excellent job further explaining this concept here.

Nov 15 2014

Sixers Back To Being Just Bad, JaKarr Sampson Is Anchovies

Philadelphia 76ers 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 Houston Rockets
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, PF 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -15The decision to consistently give Mbah a Moute 25-30 minutes a night is highly questionable. He’s frequently touted as a “defensive specialist,” but he has failed to live up to that expectation and brings essentially nothing offensively. K.J. McDaniels may soon start taking some of the veteran’s minutes.

Henry Sims, C 30 MIN | 6-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -8Sims allowed James Harden a fairly easy shot at the rim for the game-winning layup, but he gets an A regardless for shooting 75% and not getting destroyed by Dwight Howard. He hit some major shots down the stretch and played Howard about as well as we could’ve asked for. It’s starting to look like we have the old Henry Sims back.

Tony Wroten, SG 35 MIN | 7-16 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -15Michael Carter-Williams will eventually get the starting job back, but Wroten continued to make the case for why he deserves it, at least temporarily. Wroten took decent care of the ball, played the most disciplined defense we’ve seen from him all season, and even hit a major 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. His ability to get to the line may also be the Sixers’ only legitimate go-to scoring option late in games, which is scary to think about.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 27 MIN | 4-12 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 13 PTS | +12MCW struggled to find his rhythm in the first half and made a crucial turnover at the end of the game, but overall he looked like he’s starting to shake the rust off. It’ll take a while though, keep in mind that this was just his second game of organized ball in seven months.

Brett Brown
This was probably Coach Brown’s first “bad” performance as the Sixers’ coach. (Or the first that we noticed). He made some questionable late-game decisions, including picking up a silly technical foul and making some puzzling personnel choices. But even after all that, the Sixers probably wouldn’t have been in a situation to win this game without him.

 

By the Numbers

20.6% – The Rockets shot just seven of 34 from downtown tonight. Somehow, that was worse than the Sixers.

Quote of the Game

“We gotta go up there and get the cheese.” – Malik Rose. I will not provide the context for this quote.

Tweet of the Game

So…

And then…


So you heard it here first: JaKarr Sampson is anchovies.

Parting Shots

This game probably shouldn’t have been as close as it was. The Sixers gave the Rockets a ton of wide-open 3s, and Houston uncharacteristically didn’t take advantage. The Sixers undoubtedly played with more energy (perhaps in response to the 53-point blowout) and could get their first win soon if that continues. As for tonight, the basketball gods gave them a chance tonight. Of course, they couldn’t capitalize.

Nov 14 2014

Wake Me Up When This Season Ends

1. How much longer can you take this?

Goldwein: Games like last night’s? I mean, the basketball was presumably bad (I didn’t watch), but the reaction from the anti-tankers on Twitter was insufferable. The 2014-15 Sixers are a terrible team. Terrible teams lose the occasional 50-point game. It’ll get better.

Dimoff: Believe it or not, I’m actually enjoying this! The Sixers are hanging tough in basically every game they play (for at least three quarters), and and the last two contests against Toronto and Dallas were really the first two hard-to-watch games of the season thus far. As long as K.J. McDaniels and Nerlens Noel are making highlight-reel plays on a nightly basis and Tony Wroten isn’t making some incessantly stupid decisions, I’m all in on this season.

Smolen: 74 more games. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually enjoyed watching them this season (not counting the recent tire fires against Toronto and Dallas), and they can lose as many games as their heart desires, but at the end of this year, enough will be enough. I don’t expect them to be a playoff team next year, or any good really, but I will expect progress. I will expect more wins, more skill, more everything. All hail Hinkie, but if the tank motors its way into a third year, whew, that will be a tough pill to swallow.

Nemcik:  It’s pretty bad when you’ve gotten to the point where you are used to watching bad basketball on a consistent basis. At the end of the day the real question should be how much longer the players can take it. We’re still early in the season, but the Toronto and Dallas games were ugly. Obviously this is a young team and Brett Brown is going to have to do a good job to keep it focused.

Clancy: Tonight was the first time I felt my seemingly impenetrable Sixers’ happiness shield begin to crack. I can’t ever recall being as irate as I was watching Dallas destroy them during my years watching the Sixers, especially in the Hinkie and Brown era. If the next 74 games are more like last week’s closely-contested defeats,  where McDaniels and Noel look like rising stars? I’ll definitely make it. Any more 50-point losses may send me to an asylum.

2. What is Robert Covington?

Eric Goldwein: A concept. He’s a “D-level” prospect with a chance to turn into say, the next Brandon Davies. He can shoot and allegedly do a few other things; that’s why he was the D-League ROY. But he’s also turning 24 in December, and hasn’t been particularly impressive against NBA competition. Though he probably won’t pan out, the Sixers are playing with house money. There’s 100 Robert Covingtons out there, and they’ll test run each one until they find a player.

Xylon Dimoff: He’s exactly what the Sixers need right now. He’s a typical “Hinkie prospect  that he has a huge wingspan (7-2) and can attack the basket. But more importantly, he can be used as a stretch-four and should really help the floor spacing on offense (he shot 37 percent from 3 in the D-League last season). He might be a bit of a tweener defensively as a guy who’s not quick enough to guard 3s and a bit too small to guard 4s, but he should be a nice fit alongside Nerlens Noel.

Ben Smolen: To the best of my understanding, he is a basketball player. He was the D-League Rookie of the Year last year, and, as Xylon mentioned, with a decent long-range game, Convington will certainly help with the spacing on the offensive end. But to be realistic, like most recent additions, he can be best described as a lottery ticket. The odds of his being a part of the next relevant Sixers team are long, but, with practically no risk involved, it’s certainly a shot worth taking.

Marc Nemcik: He’s not big enough to guard power forwards and not athletic enough to guard wings, but offensively he could be an upgrade over what we have seen at the position. He can score, as he showed that in the D-League last year. Perhaps that’ll translate in the NBA.

Shamus Clancy: The way, the truth and the light. He’s someone who may feel out of place with his standing as one of the few people on the team who can actually shoot a basketball into the net (37 percent from 3 in the D-League last season). He seems to have the upside of a reliable rotation forward can stretch the floor. That might be enough to earn the starting spot next to Noel.

3. How many of these Sixers will be around in the 2020 championship parade?

Goldwein: Five of the six between MCW, Wroten, Noel, McDaniels, Embiid, and Saric; also, one of  the other randos. I’m a bit optimistic here, but there’s value in continuity (see: Spurs, San Antonio). Though players are getting traded left and right, the moves are being done with the intent of positioning the team for the future. When the core players are due for extensions in a few years, there’ll be plenty of cap room to retain them.

Dimoff: I agree with Derek Bodner that McDaniels and Embiid are both keepers, but I’d like to throw Nerlens Noel into that category as well. People may be quick to cite the awkward Dwight-Asik pairing in Houston as evidence that two bigs like Embiid and Noel won’t work long term, but if one of them develops a jumper I think they could fit together quite nicely. I’d consider MCW a keeper too, but only if he can develop a league-average shot.

Smolen: I’m going wild here. Three: Embiid, Saric, and McDaniels. I think MCW and Noel will be good enough to be real contributors on a championship level team in 2020, but my gut tells me that Smokin’ Sam Hinkie deals both in the coming years. Point guard is the most replaceable part in today’s NBA, and, if the Sixers end up with the top pick and Okafor is as good as advertised, that front court will get awfully crowded awfully fast. As far as the keepers, in my mind, if we’re assuming a championship, Embiid is the key cog that will take us there. McDaniels is the 3 and D guy that every good team needs. And Saric? He might still be on his rookie deal by then.

Nemcik: Hinkie is going to listen to any offer that comes his way, so I don’t know if anyone is safe. The player I’m most worried about is K.J. McDaniels. If he continues his current level of production it wouldn’t surprise me if a team with cap space offers him $4-5 million a year. Hinkie could take a hard look at moving him in a sign-and-trade if he can get assets out of a deal and doesn’t want to pay McDaniels this early in his career.

Clancy: Three: Embiid, McDaniels and, if we’re including him, Saric. Embiid possesses more potential as a franchise-changing player than both Noel and Carter-Williams, each of whom would space the floor poorly in an offense predicated on working Embiid out of the post. 2020 isn’t coming soon. The Sixers could have successful, contending teams with both Noel and MCW in the seasons leading to 2020, but it is still a while away with significant time for roster improvements and shakeups.

4. Where will the Sixers-owned Miami pick land?

Goldwein: Twenty. Chris Bosh is a borderline top-10 player, and regular season Dwyane Wade is still an all-star. But the injury-prone Wade could miss a good chunk of the season; and if he doesn’t rest, his efficiency will drop.  And Bosh 3.0 looks great now, but he’s 29 and could get worn down. It’s a 50-win team when healthy (thanks, Eastern Conference). But this roster will have a hard time surviving the 82-game grind.

Dimoff: Somewhere in the low 20s. Miami has been a pleasant surprise despite having some awkward fits on its roster, and Chris Bosh is more than proving that he can be a number one option. The team is quite limited in its depth though, and one major injury could potentially mean Miami handing over a high lottery pick to the Sixers.

Smolen: 22-25. Reports of Miami’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Chris Bosh is a 20 and 10 machine and is a legit superstar. Dwyane Wade (when playing) is still an all-star caliber player, and as far as third bananas go, Deng is a….good third banana (I was hoping a banana joke would come to me, I really was). Mix that together, add in a dash of Spo, and you have a team that easily makes it to at least the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Nemcik: Miami has looked presentable thus far, but it’s a team that’s bound to break down. Wade is going to get a nagging injury, and as much as I love Chris Bosh, I doubt he’s going to be able to keep that ship afloat by himself. They’ll make the playoffs in the East but I could see the pick landing in the late teens.

Clancy: Somewhere in the 17-20 range. Miami has played well in its 5-3 start, as Chris Bosh is putting up his 2010 numbers.. Western Conference teams will likely dominate the top of the league standings, leaving the Heat and their roster of oft-injured veterans among the second-tier teams in the East just below both Cleveland and Chicago.

5. Will MCW’s return make a difference?

Goldwein: Yes! Not only is he an upgrade at point guard, but his return could also improve Wroten’s and Shved’s efficiency. It might take a little while (last night was an all-around disaster) but the reigning ROY may be the team’s most important player.

Dimoff: Definitely. Despite Tony Wroten doing much better than I predicted, Carter-Williams is an upgrade as a floor general and is significantly more attentive defensively. And even better, MCW’s return probably means we’ll be seeing a lot less of Alexey Shved, who had an abominable start to the season (sorry, Wesley).

Smolen: Big picture: no. The team was going to lose a bunch of games without him, and they are going to lose a bunch of games with him. Small picture: He is more talented than anyone else on this Sixers team, and every once in awhile he might put up a triple-double and steal a win. So that’s fun, I guess?

Nemcik: *Takes a look at the Dallas box score* *Starts laughing hysterically* On a serious note, MCW will make the Sixers more exciting, but this team will lose a lot of games with or without him.

Clancy: The Sixers’ main problem (aside from talent) has been depth, and while it didn’t show against the Mavericks, but MCW’s return will help. Without their starting point guard, the Sixers were left with just two ball handlers (Wroten and Shved). In today’s NBA with frequent two-point guard attacks and in Brett Brown’s fast-paced system, the Sixers would benefit from having more than one ball handler on the court as much as possible.







Nov 14 2014

Mavs Beat Sixers By 53 In Record-Setting Blowout

Philadelphia 76ers 70 Final
Recap | Box Score
123 Dallas Mavericks
Tony Wroten, SG 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 11 PTS | -19Wroten put up 11 in a season-low 25 minutes, with Michael Carter-Williams back in the lineup. He took only two shots near the basket with Tyson Chandler in the paint, relying more on his outside shot. He and MCW were the Sixers’ only double-digit scorers.

K.J. McDaniels, SG 25 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | -17McDaniels flew a bit under the radar in his first NBA start. He got two fouls in the first quarter and had to sit early, which disrupted whatever rhythm he might’ve had. All of McDaniels’ shots came from beyond the arc, which is nice to see as he developments into a 3-and-D player.

Nerlens Noel, PF 29 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 5 PTS | -39It’s easy to forget that Noel is six games removed from a 20-months break. He was outmatched by Tyson Chandler and Dirk, but still showed defensive flashes. Get’em next time, Nerlens.

Drew Gordon, C 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -9He was the lone bright spot of the night, scoring his first NBA points. He showed some flashes off the bench and got solid minutes in his Sixers debut.

Michael Carter-Williams, PG 30 MIN | 6-19 FG | 6-10 FT | 8 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 19 PTS | -37Carter-Williams didn’t seem to miss a step from last season, leading the Sixers with 30 minutes and 19 points. He wasn’t afraid to attack the basket early and draw fouls despite his shooting inefficiency. Six turnovers aside, MCW looked comfortable being back on the court. His teammates, on the other hand ….

By the Numbers:

53. Margin of victory for the Mavericks tonight.

Tweet of the Game:

 


Parting Shots:

Well, things can only go up from  here. The Sixers continue to be the laughingstock of NBA Twitter, but it was nice to see MCW and Noel together. The road trip doesn’t get any easier; they play at Houston tomorrow, and at San Antonio on Monday. Maybe Pop will go easy on them.

Nov 13 2014

Michael Carter-Williams Hates Losing, Loves Ellen

What’s it like being part of one of the most blatant tank jobs in the history of professional sports? Well, over at The Players’ Tribune — Derek Jeter’s recently launched media/PR platform — Michael Carter-Williams provides his unfiltered (!) first-hand (!) account of the experience. The Sixers point guard is listed as the contributing editor of a 1,000-word article discussing last season, and his frustration with the media’s coverage of the 26-game losing streak.

Via The Players’ Tribune:

Here’s the thing: I can understand why the media seized onto the story. My problem is that it was missing a lot of context. We didn’t even have the worst record in the league at the time, but the average person watching on TV probably didn’t know that. The media spin was that we were tanking the season so we could get the number one draft pick. Now, let’s break that down for a minute.

First of all, there’s a lottery system. As players, we all know the math. The last place team only has a 25 percent chance of winning the lottery. Grown men are going to go out and purposely mail it in for a one-in-four shot at drafting somebody who might someday take their job? Nope.

Of course, anyone with half a brain knew that the tank was being operated by the front office, not the personnel. Still, the piece reminds us that he has some awareness of how the team is portrayed by the media. MCW disagrees with a lot of the coverage, and you can’t really blame him. Apparently he’s not too fond of Stephen A. Smith (or the concept of Stephen A. Smith), which is justified, because Stephen A. Smith is a hack.

The media creates this narrative and repeats it over and over. That’s how Stephen A. Smith ends up in our locker room with a big smile on his face. I’m not picking on him. I know he’s playing a character. He knows he’s playing a character. But what happens when we break the streak by going out and beating Detroit that night? Now it’s another story. After the game, a lot of the reporters didn’t even stick around. The ones that did weren’t prepared. They didn’t ask us about the specifics of the game. They made up questions on the spot, like, “Uh, hey, you guys won … so how do you feel?”

We weren’t the story anymore. They were on to the next thing. Stephen A. didn’t really stick around. I guess he had a plane to catch. Believe me, I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t come back for the same reason.

There’s certainly some fluff in here. MCW reminds us that “I seriously live basketball and I don’t take it for granted that I made it to this level. This entire summer, I spent hours face down on the trainers’ table getting my shoulder stretched to regain full range of motion. Some of the stretches are excruciating even without an injury. When physical therapy was over, I’d sprint up and down hills with an altitude mask strapped to my face looking like Bane from Batman.”

But any article that hates on Stephen A. Smith and praises The Ellen Degeneres Show – watching that is how MCW copes with all the losing — is an article that’s worth your time.

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