Well, the season is finally underway! Hard to believe we’re here…welcome to Views from 116. In case you forgot, this column is a perspective from the stands for the fans. Let’s get to it.
Sixers vs. Bulls – Thursday, October 18, 2018
Last night was the 2018-2019 season home-opener.
Trying to shake off the stark reality-check from the Celtics on Tuesday, I made my way down to The Center for last night’s tip-off at 8pm – an hour later than usual due to the primetime national TV matchup with the Chicago Bulls (who stink but play in a big market).
My section (116) is right in front of the Care Auto Insurance Bar, so that’s where I tend to enter. The bar is always hoppin’ and even more so when the game tips-off late…but for the home opener? The buzz was nearly PLAYOFF-level and the concourse was super-populated. People clearly bought tickets way ahead of time – it was a far-cry from the home opener two seasons ago when some goofus fan flipped off Russell Westbrook.
The pregame buzz in the stadium in stands was around one player and one player only: Markelle Fultz. I heard comments all over the map – from along the lines of “what’s Fultz’s rope?” to “why can’t he just shoot?” to “they need to play him as many minutes as possible” to the ever-optimistic “listen buddy, we already got a third star.”
Fans in attendance were lucky enough to get some free shirts, which lined the seats.
There was your typical weirdness in pregame, with one ref stretching in a very strange fashion and Sixers Mascot Franklin playing some sort of hangman flipchart game with Robin Lopez while mercilessly taunting the Chicago big man.
By the time of the anthem, it was a packed house – and the masses were rewarded with Sixers fan-favorite Ron Brooks for the anthem. Meek Mill rang the bell, Embiid addressed the crowd, and Sixers in-arena announcer Matt Cord got some well deserved camera time.
As soon as Markelle Fultz caught the ball on the 1st possession, everyone in the building was screaming for him to shoot. He was certainly open, but this was a trend throughout the whole quarter anytime Markelle touched the ball -“SHOOOOOOOT IIIITTT!!” I’m very curious to see how much patience our fanbase will have with his development. The Sixers ended the quarter down 38-41.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- Our defense looked good on possessions but somehow gave up 41 points. I’m not sure the Bulls missed.
- The Sixers Stixers drumline put on a nice show halfway through the 1st quarter – drumlines should be at more sporting events.
- I got on a rare 1st quarter Carlton Cam – I’m 1 for 1 on the season.
- As many threes as Robert Covington can miss, I think he almost always hits the 2nd chance three on the same possession – as some say, Cov is always better the second time around.
- The Chick-Fil-A Challenge (make a layup, free throw, and three pointer in 1 min) participant was an able-bodied bro who just couldn’t sniff the basket from three. I mean these shots were EMBARRASSINGLY short. Accordingly, this bum was booed.
- ShopRite had a promising “Price is Right” promotion, but the fan contestant lost due to the fact that ShopRite’s price was consistently higher for whatever item the contestant was guessing for. I now believe that all ShopRite prices are too high.
- There’s a pirate man (complete with fake parrot on shoulder and fake pirate voice) who sells beer in my section – I just wanted to share this with you.
This was a nice quarter from #OurGuys. JJ Redick had a four-point play, Landry Shamet looked good, and most importantly – the Cov, Fultz, Simmons, Embiid, and Redick lineup got long minutes together. I was intrigued by this lineup possibility when scrolling through the roster, and they seemed to play well together. I’m hoping that the Sixers are able to continue testing out different strategies with Fultz on the floor, particularly against bad teams like the Bulls. The Sixers ended the half up 65-58.
The halftime show was a speed painter named David Garibaldi. He’s done Sixers’ games before, but I was surprised to see him at the home opener. He threw on some fun music and speed-painted the Benjamin Franklin Sixers logo in just a few minutes. Speed painting is a solid halftime activity – it’s not super-high energy so you can chat or get up from your seat, but it’s also entertaining enough to hold your interest. I hope one day to develop advanced metrics on professional basketball halftime shows, but for now I’ll settle for the eye-test.
Robert Covington found his 3pt stroke this quarter and, let me tell you – when Cov is hitting his threes, the Sixers are gonna win. We also caught a nice stretch of our “old starters” from last year – which happened to be the best 5-man unit in the league! I hope Brett Brown continues to utilize this lineup while also developing talent (read: Fultz) during games against bad teams. The Sixers broke away here, ending the quarter 102-76.
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- There was a hotly contested game of musical chairs, which is really one of the best ongoing break entertainment gags in the stadium. As always, people forget to box out and it costs them!
- When the Sixers play nationally, there are slightly longer TV breaks, which provides ample time to make a speed run to the bathroom. I did this twice during the game and both times didn’t miss any game action. Not all heroes wear capes.
- Throughout the night more than one person in my section was eyeing up #2 on the Bulls wondering who it was…in the third quarter one wondering fan realized loudly it was Jabari Parker, which…well…doesn’t say a whole lot about the state of Jabari Parker’s career.
- Robert Covington is my favorite Sixer, but I recognize he is also a very polarizing Sixer. He sort of reminds me of Asante Samuel in that when he’s good, people notice, but when he’s bad people, seem to notice a lot more. I’m still work-shopping this take, so bear with me.
- Landry Shamet hit a few threes this quarter and I’m very much thinking about doing a SHAM WOW gimmick at some point this season.
Since the Sixers blew the game open in the 3rd quarter, the final quarter was mostly garbage time. Fultz stepped into a 3 which brought the house down
and prompted many “FULTZ” claps. Dario not only starred in a fun 76ers Showdown Jumbo-tron dance-off, but found a bit of rhythm on the court from 3, and to top everything off, the Sixers popped the Kork(maz). The only thing that irked me was Embiid staying in the game a bit too long, despite it being very nice to see both him and Simmons get a curtain call with a 30 pointt double-double and a triple double, respectively. All in all, a solid night taking care of business at home against a bad team.
Sixers WIN 127-108. Say it with me: “Fresh water. $1 pretzels.”
Next time I’m in 116, I’ll share some more views. Until then: 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!