Losing This One Could Be Tough: Sixers Face East-Worst Magic at Home

Losing This One Could Be Tough: Sixers Face East-Worst Magic at Home

You gotta respect the Orlando Magic's commitment to losing. They trade
one of the five best players in the league away and get nary a big-name
player or top-flight prospect in return, then they trade their best
player (only JJ Redick, but still) before the trade deadline for a
couple of scraps, none of whom are even starting for this 15-41 team.
Yes, the Orlando Magic are tanking the right way, losing 28 of their
last 31 games, all but guaranteeing themselves one of the league's worst
records and best chances at a top draft pick this summer—and probably a
couple more summers to follow.

That said, the Sixers have been
giving them a run for their money recently. Like Orlando, Philly has
lost their last five straight, and appear to basically be coming apart
at the seams—though at least we have arguable team MVP Thaddeus Young
back now, and if the practice session that the Funny-Looking Kid With
the Big Hair engaged in a couple days ago caused one or more of his
limbs to disintegrate...well, nobody's reported about it yet, anyway.
The Sixers actually have to be considered the favorite tonight, taking
on the utterly miserable Magic at home.

Still, given Coach
Collins' craftiness in his tanking efforts lately, we can't count the
Sixers out of losing this one completely. Look for Kwame Brown to get
the start because of "matchup concerns," for Jeremy Pargo to get 30
minutes because of a "gut feeling" and for Damien Wilkins to play at
crunch time because "he has a dad that was pretty good at basketball."
You hearing us, Orlando Magic GM Rob Hennigan? WE'RE COMING FOR THAT
NUMBER THIRTY SPOT.

7:00 tip from the WFC. In other news, John Mitchell writes that "Playing Bynum Won't Help the Sixers,"
which makes me wonder what will help the Sixers at this point. Voodoo?
Time travel? Opposite Day? Is there an Opposite Day coming up?

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Sixers reach respectable spot in ESPN's latest NBA power rankings

Everything seemed status-quo in ESPN’s Marc Stein’s most updated NBA power rankings. As expected the Warriors, Spurs, and Cavaliers occupied the top spots. But when you venture down to number 15, you may gasp. 
  
Yes, the Sixers (15-27) are gracing the middle of the power rankings at number 15. Stein is starting to "trust the process" after the team’s recent 8-2 stint. It isn’t just Joel Embid making headlines with his record-breaking numbers and internet love life, but the team is now getting its due.  
  
“Philly is doing plenty of interesting things,” Stein wrote. “Ersan Ilyasova and Robert Covington have combined to drain 51 threes over the past 10 games. The Sixers, as a team, have moved into the league's top 10 in defensive efficiency.”

Covington and Ilyasova are part of a new-look starting five along with Embiid, and guards T.J. McConnell and Nik Stauskas. McConnell and Stauskas had spent the majority of the season coming off the bench, but Stauskas has started the last 12 and McConnell 10 of the last 11 (McConnell was sidelined for one game with a wrist injury). The Sixers are 7-3 with that starting guard duo.
 
Despite the most recent loss to the Hawks, the Sixers have won four of their last eight victories by one possession. Giving them plenty of momentum to jump up ten spots from the last power ranking. 
 
The Sixers will be at home to play the Clippers this Tuesday night at 7 p.m. They will be without Joel Embid who continues to rest his injured left knee. 
 

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Jim Gaffigan warned Pope Francis not to mention Santa Claus in Philly

Comedian Jim Gaffigan opened up for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015.

That would seem like an odd opener for the Supreme Pontiff. And Gaffigan admits as much.

Gaffigan was a guest of Stephen Colbert's on Friday on his Late Show and talked about the surreal experience of warming up the crowd in Philly.

"I'm not a good Catholic," Gaffigan says. "If there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But most Catholics would fail which is probably why there's not a test."

The comedian also got in a few low level digs at our town.

"'Philadelphia: the City of Brotherly Love,' which if you've been to Philly you know they mean that sarcastically," he says. "I mean, I love Philly but they mean that the same way they say 'Syria: the place for peace.'"

Meh.

"I was nervous at the sound check so I had to come up with some Philadelphia jokes. What do I know about Philadelphia? I know about the Liberty Bell, I know the cheesesteak, and I had just watched this ESPN 30-for-30 about Eagles fans throwing snowballs at Santa. Not on the brand of Brotherly Love. So when I was finally introduced there was still nobody there, I figured I'd just do my set. So I said, 'It's good to be here in Philadelphia,' and I heard a roar from crowd on the highway, so I thought I'd play to the crowd in the highway. 'Philly loves the Pope!' and I got another roar. 'Not that I was worried but you guys weren't that nice to Santa Claus.' Nothing. Silence. And then I heard something that sounded like booing... because it was booing. It wasn't everybody, maybe ten percent, so like 100,000 people booing my Santa joke before they saw their religious leader who was going to talk about mercy."

"Eventually I got a chance to meet the Pope and I was in this room and everybody was saying something to the Pope and I didn't know what to say. So when it finally came my turn, I said, 'Don't bring up the Santa incident.' The Pope didn't say anything but he gave me a look like, 'Dude, I would never bring that up.'"

The ESPN film that Gaffigan mentioned was actually a spoof. It was just kind of okay. You can watch it here.

The Pope part starts around the 5:10 mark in the below video.