Philly Front Office

Views from 116: Jimmy Butler’s First Home Game

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. Jazz – Friday, November 16, 2018

Yesterday, the 9-7 Sixers took on the 7-7 Jazz. The Sixers won 113-107, making the Sixers 10-7 and the Jazz 7-8.

Pregame:

As I walked to my buddy RJ’s house, I found myself texting my podcast partner Bryan a bevy of weird Ben Simmons trade value ideas (I am not ready to reveal these yet). Context: our scumbag Warriors-fan partner Mike challenged me to figure out Ben’s trade value and…well, I’ve never even considered Ben’s trade value…but I’m intrigued at the possibilities. The Butler effect is REAL.

I totally chuck that notion aside because RJ and I, longtime Sixers partners, are ready to go the stadium. We Uber there and poke around the store for a bit – the city jerseys and new shooting shirts look fantastic. Kudos to the organization there.

I can indeed confirm that Jimmy Butler now plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.

We grab some food at Shake Shack and watch warm-ups. It is weird to see Jimmy Butler in person, playing for my favorite team. I’ve long enjoyed him from a distance, but to see him suit up and chit-chat pregame for the Sixers really is surreal. RJ and I recount the Ship of Theseus that is this Sixers team (shoutout to Rights to Ricky Sanchez for the metaphor) – after trading Robert Covington and Dario Saric, the longest tenured “planks” are Embiid and TJ (who posted yet another DNP). The sun has set on The Process, and we’re truly in a new era as Sixers fans.

The Sixers didn’t mess around with the anthem (Ron Brooks) or the bell (Allen Iverson) tonight – this game felt IMPORTANT and you could feel the buzz in the stadium, swelling through the new Creed-laced intro video and hitting a crescendo with the introduction of the newest Sixer: Jimmy Butler.

First Quarter:

Everyone was thrilled for the Sixers feat. Jimmy Butler to take the floor, and they did not disappoint in the opening quarter. The best moment was the crowd chanting “Jim-my But-ler” early and Simmons, recognizing the moment, setting him up for a three which was promptly drained.

Other 1st quarter observations:

  • Donovan Mitchell, who remains a rookie, made some bad mistakes early. He finished the night 13-35 from the field, 1-11 from 3pt land, and a game-high 31 points. I guess not all zeroes wear capes.
  • RJ noted almost immediately that the Sixers were much more aggressive and dangerous off of misses with Jimmy Butler than they had been before. I tend to agree.
  • Embiid may have tweaked his wrist or jammed his finger early, which is always scary. We’ll see how he fares in the back-to-back @ Charlotte.
  • Joe Ingles is Ned Schneebly. That is all.
  • Butler’s ability to cut off-ball adds a nice layer to the Sixers offense that they didn’t have with Saric and Covington (who I wish the absolute best to </3).
  • Wilson Chandler & JJ Redick are our starters alongside the “Big 3” of Butler, Embiid, and Simmons. This is a good lineup on both sides of the court.
  • Markelle Fultz, ever the enigma, has been relegated to the 2nd unit. I think this is for the best.
  • The Sixers won the quarter 38-24.

Second Quarter:

The Sixers didn’t play as well this quarter, which made me sad. Rather than delve into the specifics, I’ll just note some fun things:

  • The “Chick-Fil-A” drop, which is a gimmick where Chick-Fil-A sandwiches and t-shirts are dropped from the ceiling, was a bit of a bummer today as the t-shirt-to-sandwich ratio was wayyyy off in my section. Three t-shirts landed and, sadly, there wasn’t a chicken sandwich to be found.
  • This contestant cashed-in!

    The first fast-lane money-grab for a game I’ve attended this year occurred. This is a goofy gimmick where the Pennsylvania Lottery sponsors a fan’s chance to step into a windy phone-booth and catch as much loose cash as possible. Only in America, baby! Anyway, our participant racked it up by employing the time-honored “stuff it down your shirt” strategy. Truly, it was a treat to watch this master at work.

  • There were a lot of Fultz minutes this quarter, and I found myself wanting to see Butler hit the floor again. I think this tension will grow a little bit until everyone settles into their role/rotation (which is still clearly being ironed out).
  • The Sixers lost the quarter 16-28, leading 54-52 at the half.

Halftime:

While RJ and I were catching up with Jason, Matt, and Adam of PFO in the concourse, the immortal Red Panda put on a show!

Third Quarter:

Embiid got into quick foul trouble, which benched him for most of the quarter. Spoiler alert: it didn’t matter much since the Sixers and Jazz played to a draw for the quarter. HOWEVER – there was not ONE but TWO Frosty Freeze-Outs! That means small frosty AND small fries! It’s a shame Robert Covington is no longer on the team, because this gimmick really meant a lot to some fans.

Other 3rd quarter observations:

  • JJ Redick kicked Ricky Rubio in the face on a failed jump-shot attempt. Despite the flagrant one foul assessment, this was hilarious in real-time.
  • With Embiid out, Butler and Simmons picked up the slack on defense, swarming where necessary and generally looking good. I think the “Big 3” will really bond through their defensive aptitude.
    A rigged sham where everyone wins. Sad!
  • Fan events that occurred this quarter included the Golden Nugget sham-shuffle (my offer of a $20 reward to lose still stands), musical chairs (pretty uneventful, nobody boxed out), and the atrocious “Wheel of Fan Cam,” which selects different “cams” randomly. It’s no secret that I prefer this to only be the Carlton Cam (which did not hit tonight, sadly).
  • There was a strange amount of Amir shots this quarter, particularly those from 3pt range. Despite making his attempts, Amir holds the “X-button” too long and takes wayyyyyy too long to “charge-up” his shot. I would like to see more of an offensive plan going forward.
  • Embiid left the court (which made people gasp) and quickly returned (which made people laugh) this quarter.
  • Jimmy Butler is clearly beloved by the crowd, even in his debut. I think this partnership will work out.
  • The Sixers ended the quarter up 86-84.

Fourth Quarter:

The final quarter was legitimately exciting, as a back-and-forth game went down to the wire (with the Sixers emerging victorious). I wish I was making this up, but the turning point in my mind came around the 8-min mark when there was a dance off break. The dance cam kid, forever the king of the Jumbotron, had a worthy rival tonight. A young man who was more spastic and shameless than his adversary won the hearts of the stadium as he had an epic back/forth with the dance cam kid. At the time, it felt like something shifted in the stadium for the better.

Sure enough, the Sixers have a few excellent sequences shortly after, including clutch Jimmy Butler shots, Embiid and-1s and much more. Simmons and Butler iced the see-saw game on a nice inbound in the final minute. Just as importantly, our dance-off contestants met up to ice the game from the stands as well.

Sixers WIN 113-107. 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!

Eric Marturano

I am a Sixers season ticket holder. Trust the Process.
I predicted that Nick Foles would win Super Bowl MVP after Wentz went down. Go Birds.

Follow me @TheEMart on Twitter, or listen to my podcast (Two Paisani & A Pizza) on iTunes, here at PFO, or our homebase website
(http://necessaryroughnesspodcast.blogspot.com/)

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