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. Wizards – Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Yesterday, the 26-14 Sixers took on the 16-24 Wizards. The Sixers won 132-115, improving to 27-14 while the Wizards fell to 16-25.
Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 was an exciting day for all of us here at Philly Front Office. The Philadelphia 76ers officially called up Haywood Highsmith from the Delaware Blue Coats, signing him to a two-way deal. We’ve long been fans of Haywood’s game at PFO and have gotten to know him quite a bit over these last few months – needless to say, I was thrilled to see someone I’ve been rooting for get a chance to shine.
As a Sixers fan, Haywood Highsmith getting the call up and the two-way contract represents to me a return to and extension of both the logos (finding playable guys on the cheap) and the pathos (who doesn’t love an underdog earning a roster spot?) that drove The Process. During the Process years, I fell in love with players like Robert Covington and TJ McConnell by watching them grind their way into a role and roster spot, so truly, I’m thrilled for Haywood – as well as other former Blue Coats Shake Milton and Jonah Bolden – as they work to turn into contributors for a ever-thinning Sixers lineup much in need of depth.
As my wife Erin & I headed to the game together, we wondered if we would see Haywood hit the floor – after all, the Wizards stink, and they seem to hate each other, so there was some serious blowout potential (Spoiler: The Sixers did win in a blow-out and Haywood did check-in and guess what he even hit a three!). After we arrived, we watched warm-ups for a bit and got excited for a fun night against a bad team. Jessy Kyle sang the anthem, and snowboarder Sébastien Toutant rang the bell. Game on.
Although this game would turn into a blowout, the Sixers got off to a pretty slow start. Down JJ Redick, Furkan Korkmaz was inserted into the starting lineup. Although Furkan ended the night 5-9 from the field and 3-7 from 3pt for 16 pts and a +5 on-off rating, I would have preferred to start Shamet as the Redick fill-in (Shamet ended up with a killer night, by the way, shooting 8-14 from three and ending the night with a career high 29 pts). I’m still not the biggest Korkmaz fan, but he seems interested in working hard to get better, so I’m not entirely out on him as a rotation guy yet.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- There were some nice Ben Simmons post-ups early on. I really like his post game.
- Honda seems to have wrestled the basketball challenge away from Chik-Fil-A in 2019 (shoot a layup-FT-3PT-half court to win a car). Unfortunately, the younger fan participant (~14 year old girl) was unable to make it past the free-throw portion. Nobody won a new car tonight.
- Speaking of teenage girls, there were about three of them behind me talking quite loudly about whatever drama is going on at their middle or high school. As a grizzled veteran of going to games, I’ve learned to mostly tune surrounding noise that bugs me out. However, I overheard something along the lines of “…and don’t even get me started about her mom, who is a big OJ hater! You know, the guy who shouldn’t have gone to jail…” and nearly spit my drink out in shock.
- Jimmy Butler had some nice plays this quarter and ended the night on 8-9 shooting with 20 pts in 28 minutes. For those of you worried about his fit with this team – he’s fine.
- The Chick-Fil-A parachute drop occurred between quarters. My section unfortunately doesn’t align with where these yummy treats drop from so I’m always automatically out of the running from being struck by a flying chicken sandwich. Perhaps one day one will float my way. A man can only dream…
- The quarter ended with the Sixers up 32-29.
The Sixers opened the game up this quarter and didn’t really look back. I got the sense during this quarter the Wizards still very much hate each other and aren’t interested in competing as a unit. I thought this might change after the trade that shipped out Kelly Oubre for Trevor Ariza, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. They might need to trade the whole team after 5-10 more losses.
- The “Old City Dancers” were featured at the break between quarters. Seriously, what’s better than twenty old ladies dancing?
- TJ stole a pass off an inbound, which seems to happen about one of every three times he checks in. YOU CAN’T TEACH GRIT, BABY!
- The pop-a-shot contest between fans was back in full-force – as were the unforgiving boos for when fans inevitably hit a cold streak. Both contestants failed miserably from the outset, making single-digit shots in what felt like at least 2 minutes each. I even booed – these guys were awful.
- Shamet started to take a lot of threes this quarter– made a few, missed a few, but clearly had THE green light this game. This was the quarter I noticed, and next quarter he really cashed in.
- The Sixers won the quarter 36-16, leading 68-45 at the break.
I’ll be honest – this game was so clearly a blowout that my wife Erin and I spent much of halftime and the third quarter hanging at the bar behind section 116 with our friends Jon and Cassie (also in attendance in their season-ticket section). All four of us chatted about life and basketball for about half the quarter (which the Sixers ended up winning 36-33, hanging 104 on the hapless Wizards who only had 78). I did end up with few observations though…
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- Around 5:05, they ran the ShopRite “Price Check”…and not all the prices were lower! They’re learning!
- At this break, there was also a Sixer vs. Sixer, this time between Amir Johnson and Ben Simmons on the subject of ice cream flavors. You may remember from a few weeks ago that Amir bested Joel Embiid 6-2 on the subject of ice cream flavors. Well, the difficulty was upped tonight, folks! Ben Simmons named 11 ice cream flavors, blowing away Amir’s 8. Kudos to Ben, who somehow finds a way to hit double digits in everything he does.
- We watched the latter half of the quarter from our seats, and it was raining Shamet threes. The whole stadium got into Heat-Check Shamet, and I hope to see this red-hot version of the Sixers’ exciting rookie again soon!
- Alshon Jeffery and Michael Bennett of the future back-to-back SB Champion Philadelphia Eagles were in attendance tonight. Always nice to see some Eagles in the crowd.
This was mostly garbage time, which was fortunate for Haywood Highsmith, Shake Milton, and Jonah Bolden. The trio of former Blue Coats finished out the game playing well together – it’s almost like they’ve done this before, huh? I would like to see all three on the roster and on the court as the Sixers continue to search for depth. Two final notes:
- A Free Frosty happened. These are and remain the best.
- It’s been well documented in this column how much I love the Carlton Cam and, conversely, how much I hate the Fortnite Cam. Well tonight, my first real disappointment with the Sixers in-game entertainment finally occurred – the Carlton Cam was subjected to be a sub-division of the Fortnite Cam. What I mean by that is as the Fortnite Cam roulette-from-hell spun its way through the nightmarish dances currently ruining teenage America, it played Tom Jones’ “It’s Not Unusual” to some 3-D pumpkin hack robot attempting to dance like Alfonso Ribeiro. I’ve since notified all necessary parties and will take further action as I see fit. This travesty must be stopped. The Carlton Cam used to mean something!
Sixers WIN 132-115. 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!