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. Pacers – Friday, December 14, 2018
Yesterday, the 19-10 Sixers took on the 18-10 Pacers. The Sixers lost 101-113, falling to 19-11 while the Pacers improved to 18-10.
My pal RJ met my wife Erin and I for dinner at Bourbon & Branch, a solid bar & restaurant near our home. I decided to switch away from wings for once and try their cheesesteak, which is a food that I always feel a little weird about ordering in an actual restaurant. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.
Once dinner was finished, RJ & I departed for Spring Garden Station to take the subway down to the game, lamenting the disturbing Fultz article from the Washington Post and the Sixers’ general lack of depth. Although Mike Muscala was cleared to play tonight (in hindsight, he didn’t help much), the already-thin Sixers were down one of their best players in Jimmy Butler. With Jonah Bolden back with the Blue Coats and Shake Milton not yet trusted by Brett Brown (3 minutes of action tonight), we sure could use a Markelle Fultz or a Zhaire Smith or even a Justin Patton right about now!
I should mention that as I write this, #NBATwitter is melting down over a potential deal between the Suns, Grizzlies, and Wizards involving Trevor Ariza and Kelly Oubre that fell apart because the Suns and Grizzlies couldn’t agree on “which Brooks – Marshon or Dillon” would be traded. Perhaps the Sixers and their deep pockets of 2nd round picks should get involved for some of these clearly available rotation players? I digress…
We arrived at the stadium pretty close to tip, so we rushed right to our seats. The anthem was played wonderfully on the guitar by Taz Niederauer. Brandon Brooks and Kamu Grugier-Hill of the 6-7 Philadelphia Eagles rang the bell. Maybe if Nick Foles rang it the Sixers would have won.
Ben Simmons had a hot start, which he seems to do often. The trouble is that he also seems to disappear as the game goes on. I’m hoping that changes throughout the year. While this team will essentially go as far as Embiid can take them, Simmons has All-NBA potential as well, and I’d like to see that continue to develop.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- Embiid and Simmons connected on a nice dish & dunk. Simmons’ vision really sets him apart from other athletic freaks who can’t shoot threes. If he can add shooting to his game, we really could have two legitimate MVP candidates on the roster.
- There was a layup-free throw-3pt-half court contest that a fan failed miserably. Usually, the crowd won’t boo if the contestant can make it to the 3pt attempt, but this fan had such ugly misses for his layups and free throws that by the time he was attempting 3pt shots, he was being booed mercilessly. Gotta love Philadelphia, baby!
- The lack of depth became apparent this quarter, and at one point, Brett Brown ran out a McConnell-Shamet-Redick-Simmons-Muscala defensive eye-sore. The Sixers basically lucked-out this quarter with Indiana missing a bunch of easy looks.
- The Sixers won the quarter 34-24. This, unfortunately, would end up being the only quarter they won.
Embiid really broke out this quarter, and it was apparent he was headed for a big night. The Pacers really had no answer for him. They did have an answer for everyone else though, and there were a lot of bad stretches here for the team as a whole – turnovers, lack of offense outside of Embiid…the makings of a home loss.
- They played this new and weird skee-ball game between quarters where a fan contestant has three rolls and gets better and better prizes with each roll they’re able to place into one of the skee-ball tubes.
- The Big Head race took place this quarter as well, which, in case you forgot, is a thing where three giant “big heads” of players (tonight, Embiid, Wilson Chandler, and TJ McConnell) are passed across rows/sections of fans. The row assigned to TJ McConnell’s head won by a slim margin. As always, my $50 offer stands for anyone willing to take the giant head when it is passed to them and sprint out of the stadium. All I ask for is proof!
- Another gimmick – the pop-a-shot contest – took place. This is a pretty straightforward contest where two players see who can make the most pop-a-shot buckets. Winner gets to compete in some other tournament, and there’s a league-wide competition going on around the All-Star break. The first kid tonight was OK, but the second kid really showed some speed. He may have the distinct honor of representing our fan base at whatever eventual competition he competes in – and to think, I had the privilege to watch him tonight!
- In-arena announcer Matt Cord has started to do this thing where he stutters while saying Shamet (Sh-Sh-Sh-Shamet!). I usually like the stuff Matt Cord does with players (i.e., the dish from Ish, the feed from Embiid, HEAD COACH IS BRETT BROWN, etc.), but I’m not too fond of this one.
- There was a point in the 2nd quarter where I thought Embiid was going to get 50. He ended up with 40 and 21 rebounds.
- The Sixers tied the quarter 25-25 and went into halftime with a 10 point lead.
Embiid remained the only offense for an ugly Sixers quarter – one they lost 18-31. This was a rough stretch of game. Luckily, there was some entertaining stuff happening elsewhere:
- The Musical Chairs contest – usually hotly contested! – was a complete sham tonight. This woman in red (who I picked to win!) essentially took herself out of the running in the final round, wandering away from the chair aimlessly to the music. I mean seriously, look at this coward:
- Sixer vs. Sixer was fun, with Joel Embiid vs. Amir Johnson on the topic of cartoon characters. Amir and his grizzled veteran knowledge of figures such as “Mickey Mouse” or “The PowerPuff Girls” got him the easy win.
- The Price is Right returned once more, but this time I learned that only 2 out of the 3 things I buy at Shop Rite will be higher than the average person would guess. Progress!
- This quarter was very discouraging. I wanted someone other than Joel to take over – particularly Ben “Third Star” Simmons…but he didn’t. I think Simmons has benefitted a bit from Markelle Fultz absorbing the early season spotlight. If the team continues to struggle, he may become more of a beacon of criticism than initially expected.
- We lost this quarter by 13 points! Not great!
The Sixers also lost this quarter, this time by 9 points (24-33). RJ & I had been playing our “first to 100 pts wins” game since about the 2nd quarter, and the Pacers blew right through that. There were also a few other signs of a home loss that happened in the 4th quarter:
- The Carlton Cam occurred, but I did not get on it (despite great dancing).
- The Fortnite Cam, which stinks, happened. I get that kids love dancing, but it’s the same three dances. Give me the Simba Cam or the Bongo Cam …or think of better Cams!
- The crowd was absolutely dead down 7 points with 4 minutes to go. You could almost feel the anger in the stadium. I was also at the loss vs. the Cavaliers, but this felt worse.
Rather than further re-live a frustrating game, I’ll just say the Sixers lost 101-113. No fresh water. No $1 pretzels.
Next time I’m in 116, I’ll share some more views (and hopefully a win!). Until then: 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!