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. Pistons – Saturday, November 3, 2018
Yesterday, the 5-4 Sixers took on the 4-3 Pistons. The Sixers won 109-99, making the Sixers 6-4 and the Pistons 4-4.
The “pregame” for this actually started the previous night at the “Meet the Sixers” event for season ticket holders at The University of the Arts. The event was fun – free food, a couple quick Q&As from in-arena announcer Christian Crosby to Wilson Chandler, Robert Covington, Amir Johnson, and Landry Shamet. My pal RJ and I were able to chat with Lanbo a bit and get his autograph – he’s been awesome this year!
The next day, my wife Erin and I caught a ride to the game from our home. We browsed the gift shop a bit but didn’t find anything particularly worth a purchase – this tends to happen when you have way too much Sixers gear already. We got some giant pizza slices form Lorenzo’s and made our way to our seats to watch warm-ups. Erin gets a kick out of Fultz always having his hood up during warm-ups, admiring that “he also appreciates being comfy!” PFO’s own Jason Blevins was kind enough to stop by and say hello – if you haven’t been following his awesome coverage of the Sixers and the Blue Coats, you’re missing out.
The pregame buzz was mostly about trying to figure out why the game was at 1pm. At first, many people in our section thought it was maybe due to a Flyers game or a concert or something else going on in the evening – nope! For what it’s worth, I’m all for weekend afternoon games.
The anthem tonight was sung by 14-year old recording artist Gianna Caruso, and the bell was rung by actor Stephan James. I actually just saw Stephan during the recent Philadelphia Film Festival in Barry Jenkin’s adaption of “If Beale Street Could Talk” – highly recommend seeing the film!
The crowd was anxious to take it to the Pistons after losing to them on the road in a Blake Griffin 50pt game. From the jump, it was clear that nobody could guard Embiid – particularly Andre Drummond. Embiid loves to torment Drummond both on and off the court and has been getting the best of him for years. Embiid got off to a hot start and had a beautiful alley-oop courtesy of Ben Simmons.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- Dario Saric has all but replaced Robert Covington as the home-crowd groan-inducer. If he can’t find his stroke from three (currently 24%) or play better defense soon, Brett Brown might need to give him a week off.
- The Chick-Fil-A Challenge (make a layup, free throw, three pointer, and half-court shot in 1 min) participant hit the layup and free throw, but couldn’t get past the 3-pointer. The crowd did not boo this valiant effort.
- Mike Muscala is quickly becoming a fan favorite – there’s already “MOOOOOOSE” cheers when he checks in.
- Wilson Chandler checked in with about five minutes left in the 1st quarter and got a warm reception. He played fine today for his first game back – I’m excited to see how he finds his place in the roster.
- There was this weird blond inflatable guy that clearly couldn’t see and needed to be led around the stadium by an attendant. There was no mention of what this promotion was about the entire game, so it became an unsolved mystery for Erin & me. [UPDATE: I guess they did some sort of promotion for Fallout 76…if they picked Super Mario Party, they would have had my attention]
- Blake Griffin gets calls like he is a superstar which is frustrating because he is most certainly an unlikable bum. I just needed to vent about this somewhere, so thank you for indulging me.
- The Sixers won the quarter 30-24.
The Sixers played great this quarter – Embiid caught fire and ended the half with 32 points, Fultz played well, and Shamet looked great. The best play of the quarter was a crazy save by Fultz that led to a Cov transition three. After Detroit took a timeout to stem the tide, in-arena announcer Matt Cord hit this derisive “Tiiiii-meeeeee ouuttttt DEEEEEE-TROIIIIIIT” to make fun of the “De-troit basket-ball” those doofuses in Michigan do.
Other 2nd quarter observations:
- Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery were in the building and got a nice reception from the crowd. They’ll figure heavily into the storylines for the rest of the Eagles’ season.
- Embiid simply cannot be stopped when he is aggressive – he put up 18 free throws in the first half and seemingly handcuffed every Piston big with foul-trouble.
- The Sixers won the quarter 39-33, leading 69-47 at the half.
While I was catching up with Jason and Adam of PFO in the concourse, I caught some of the halftime show of Exodus Artisty on the monitors that show what’s going on on-the-court (this is a great feature by the way). Erin told me this was pretty entertaining from the stands and also added that there was “a weird Xbox commercial that nobody understood” (adding further mystery to our yellow-haired inflatable man) and that “Blake Griffin sure seems like a jerk.” I couldn’t agree more!
The Pistons crept back into the game here courtesy of some weird fouls, including some which got both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid into foul-trouble. The Sixers were able to survive and, almost as importantly, encouraged the crowd to help Andre Drummond brick his way to FREE FROSTYS FOR EVERYONE IN ATTENDANCE.
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- There was a good, clean game of musical chairs played around the 9-min mark. Nobody cheated, which is more than I can say from the home-opener!
- The crowd was VERY unhappy with the officiating (and so was I!) this quarter. It seemed like they were trying to over-correct for all the free throws they gave Embiid early on.
- Fultz, Muscala, and Covington provided great play this quarter to keep the surging Pistons at bay.
- Around the 4-min mark, the Sixers broke out the “Simba-Cam”, which was a big hit with the crowd.
- I cringe every time Embiid pump fakes from three – I would like for him to either go immediately to the hoop or just shoot without pump faking. I feel like he gives up his advantage to get a step or an open three when he pump fakes.
The Sixers ended the quarter up 85-72.
The Pistons made the 4th quarter interesting, but the Sixers were ultimately able to pull away. I started to play the “first to XX score wins” game with my pal RJ via text (we settled on 100, which happened to ring true). I was glad to see our guys close out strong at home.
A final highlight from the stands: the “Golden Nugget Shuffle” – which is a game where a fan needs to “find the ring” out of three continuously shifting boxes – took place this quarter. I’ve been going almost every game now for three years as a season ticket holder and plenty of games years before then as a general fan – I’ve never seen anybody lose this game. I’m actually convinced they just have it rigged so that whatever the fan says, they person controlling the video board selects that box. To that end, I personally challenge anyone to lose this specific game. As a reward, I will personally give $20 to any fan that can find a way to get selected for, and then lose the “Golden Nugget Shuffle.” Find me on Twitter, prove to me that you lost, and I’ll pay up.
Sixers WIN 109-99. 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!