Checking in on the Sixers' Tanking Operation Before Their Orlando Visit

Checking in on the Sixers' Tanking Operation Before Their Orlando Visit

As of a couple weeks ago, the Sixers have pretty well committed
themselves to tanking this season—whether they actually meant to do so
or not—going 1-11 in their last 12 games. When you look at that stat and
consider that the team wasn't all that good to begin with, you'd think
they'd be well on their way to a top five pick by now. But while it only
takes two to tango, it takes a whole lot more to tank...o...and the
Sixers haven't gotten the kind of cooperation from the teams beneath
them that they need to keep slipping in the standings. Here are the
records of how the teams I wrote about the Sixers possibly catching in
the standings since I wrote that article about two weeks ago:

Toronto Raptors: 1-5
Minnesota Timberwolves: 1-5
Detroit Pistons: 1-4
New Orleans Hornets: 1-5
Washington Wizards: 2-4

Thanks
a lot, guys. Thanks to your impressively pathetic efforts, the Sixers
(at 15 games under .500) remain tied with the Raptors for just the
tenth-worst record in the league, a game "behind" the Timberwolves and
1.5 behind the Pistons. At least the Cavaliers have managed to go 3-3
(and the Suns 4-2) over that timespan, both bringing themselves to
within tanking distance for the Sixers.

Looks like out-losing
the bottom teams is gonna be nearly as big a challenge for the Sixers as
actually re-entering the playoff race would be. Still, you can only
lose the games on your schedule, and the Sixers will have a tough (but
not impossible) loss tonight when they visit the Orlando Magic, still in
second in the tanking rankings, though now well behind the historically
bad (again) Charlotte Bobcats. Sixer fans will no doubt recall that
Operation Bottom-Out officially began with the Magic's home
embarrassment of the Liberty Ballers at the Wells Fargo Center a couple
weeks ago, which ended with Coach Collins smilingly denouncing his team
and pining for Nik Vucevic, briefly making the Sixers' suckiness a
national story.

6:00 tip from Amway Center. Will the Sixers care
enough about their prior defeat to actually try to win this game in
Orlando? Is that something we even want? Will it be funny to try to
watch Spencer Hawes scrap for rebounds and loose balls, desperate to
earn Collins' love back? Eh. Go Pistons, Cavaliers and Timberwolves in
their respective games tonight.

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

Steve Mason rediscovers himself in New York just before Flyers return

It had been a while since Steve Mason saw himself.

Walking into the Barclays Center on Sunday, the Flyers’ goalie was 0-6-2 with a 4.03 goals-against average and .844 save percentage over his last 10 appearances (see more recent Flyers numbers and stats).

A far cry of how Mason truly sees himself in net.

But heading into Wednesday’s rivalry clash with the Rangers, Mason will have something to build on, something he couldn’t say since Dec. 21 - the last previous time he had earned a victory. He’s fresh off his first win in over a month, a massive one for Mason considering all the key moments on Sunday the Flyers hope invigorate his confidence.

Without numerous clutch stops from their goalie, the Flyers don’t come back from two goals down to beat the Islanders, 3-2, in overtime. Mason made four saves  — three on four-time All-Star John Tavares — in just over a minute of a third-period power play. The Flyers ended up having to kill two New York man advantages in the final 10 minutes of regulation in order to force overtime.

The extra session is when Mason was just as good, if not better, stoning Tavares on a breakaway attempt that had game-winner written all over it. Mason made four saves in overtime after 13 in the third period.

“I was happy with the way that, personally, this game went for myself,” Mason said Sunday. “It’s been a tough stretch and this is more the type of game that I expect of myself. In recent games, the team was lacking the big saves and tonight it shows what kind of difference it can make.”

It was a massive performance heading into a massive three-game stretch against the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes.

“Mase made some huge saves for us,” Simmonds said. “It allowed us to get back in that game.

“It’s not just Mase [with the] ups and downs. Everyone in here has been kind of fighting it and squeezing sticks pretty tight. That one felt good and I think Mase led the charge for sure.”

Mason understands just one game doesn’t turn around a season.

“It’s nice to feel good after a game,” Mason said. “At the same time, whether you’re winning or losing, you have to have a short mindset and get ready for the next one.”

That brings the Flyers to Madison Square Garden Wednesday to face the Rangers, who they’ve lost five straight games to dating back to last season. Mason hasn’t had much luck against New York this season, allowing seven goals in two losses with an .860 save percentage. However, in 2015-16, Mason put up a 1.74 goals-against average and .941 save percentage in five games against the Rangers.

“That’s going to be a tough game going into MSG,” Mason said Tuesday (see story).

The good thing: Mason was in New York two days ago, remembering what he can be.

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

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AP Images

Manute Bol's 7-foot, 17-year-old son dominates in HS season debut

Bol Bol, the 17-year-old son of the late Manute Bol, is a top high school basketball prospect with offers from schools like Arizona, Kansas and Creighton. This highlight tape should give you an idea why.
 
Bol, whose father played in the NBA for parts of 12 seasons, including 215 games for the Sixers, now attends the famed Mater Dei High School in California and played in his first game of the season this past weekend. Listed as the No. 16 overall prospect in the 2018 recruiting class by Scout, Bol started his season off with a big 21-point, 10-rebound effort.
 
Take a look at the highlight tape from the 6-foot-11 Bol and expect to see him carry on his father’s legacy on the court at a major NCAA college basketball program soon.