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. Raptors – Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Yesterday, the 34-19 Sixers took on the 38-16 Raptors. The Sixers lost 107-119, falling to 34-20 while the Raptors improved to 39-16.
Upon arriving at the stadium, my wife Erin and I learned that this would be the game where the Sixers celebrate Chinese New Year. This made for some fun art and fan activities throughout the night.
A weird thing that happens with nationally televised games is that the anthem is played 10 minutes or so before tipoff vs. directly before. I’m not really a fan of this format to begin with, and tonight required two national anthems since the Sixers were playing Toronto. Although this made for a weird break in the pregame warm-up action, the quartet from the Philadelphia Orchestra did a great job with both anthems.
The Sixers were extremely shorthanded tonight, with Wilson Chandler out with an injured quad for 2-3 weeks, Shake Milton out indefinitely with a broken finger, and JJ Redick a very late scratch due to nausea. While I was excited to hear that Haywood Highsmith would be available, he did not see the court. We also only got 7 minutes of Jonah Bolden while simultaneously getting 20 minutes of Furkan Korkmaz and 32 minutes of Mike Muscala. The rotation on the night was only 8 deep and with the trade deadline looming Thursday at 3pm, it felt like a final audition for some of these players. We’ll see what happens [Editor’s note: we have already begun to see what’s happening].
Allen Iverson was in the building and rang the bell. Matt Cord fired up the crowd in his patented joyous screaming – he is welcome to give my eulogy in the event rooting for this team winds up killing me. Game on.
The Sixers started off OK in this quarter for the first few minutes but quickly fell apart defensively, letting up a total of 40 points by the end of the quarter. While this was happening, the Raptors took the lead with 7:24 left in the first quarter and maintained it through the end of the game. I hope this is the final time I write a sentence like that this season.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- The Sixers wore their red uniforms tonight, which aren’t bad in-and-of-themselves but pale in comparison to both the blue and especially the white jerseys. Throw in the grey “city” jerseys and stellar white “earned” jerseys, and the red ones are a solid 5th place out of 5.
- The “Cap Race” occurred, and I still hate it! Nobody comes to stadiums to watch big videos of predetermined races! Get fans in Flintstone-style cars out on the court or something! Seriously, anything is better than this colorful hell:
- With 6:01 to play in the 1st quarter and the Sixers down 10-16, Furkan Korkmaz checked in, which caused me to write a note saying, “I can assure you it’s gonna get ugly.” The Raptors proceeded to score another 24 points during those 6 minutes. Korkmaz is by far my least favorite Sixer.
- It became clear that nobody could guard Embiid with Jonas Valanciunas out…the trouble was, the Sixers couldn’t get him the ball much early on. The Sixers eventually got better at this, and Embiid would end the night with 37 points.
The Sixers lost this quarter 27-32, extending the Raptors halftime lead to 17 (55-72). I don’t have a ton to say about it other than it was continued frustration from the first quarter, which we were down 20 for most of.
By the end of the half, it became apparent that this Sixers team – though shorthanded – still has much to do to get out of the Eastern Conference.
The Big Head race occurred. This is the thing with 3 giant cut-out heads being passed down rows in a race. A fun wrinkle tonight was that the Joel, Ben, and Jimmy heads were done in an anime-style in honor of Chinese New Year. As for the race itself, I don’t pay attention to who wins this anymore because nobody has had the courage to run out of the stadium with the big head when its passed to them – remember, I have $50 waiting for you if you do this and can prove it:
- The Beard Cam happened and remains the second most garbage cam (the Fortnite Came is first and will remain there). The worst storyline from the stands continues to be the replacement of the Carlton Cam with all these terrible cams. We can do better, Philly!
- Regarding how the game itself went in the 2nd quarter, I don’t have a ton of notes other than “awful stretch to start,” “bad stuff,” and “man this stinks!”…I think you get the picture.
There was a dragon dance at halftime, which was pretty cool:
The Sixers 3rd quarter was a lot better than the 1st half and they only lost it by 1 (27-28). The problem was, they were already down 17 entering it. It just felt like they were getting outworked. Even little mini-runs to cut the Raptors lead to 10 or so turned futile fast, and the deficit ballooned right back up to near 20. The refs certainly didn’t help the cause, but it was no excuse…not yet anyway (more on this in the 4th). I blame the Korkmaz minutes and to a lesser extent the Muscala minutes – it’s hard to beat good teams with multiple minus-defenders out there.
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- The Chik-Fil-A Basketball Challenge, which is the thing where a fan shoots a layup, free-throw, three-pointer, and half-court shot for successive prizes (and free chicken sandwiches for everyone if they hit the half-court shot) was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Our hero comes out and hits a layup, free-throw, and three-pointer just 1-2-3. Although he proceeded to miss his four half-court shot attempts, it was impressive. While the Sixers are shorthanded, maybe we can get this fan to eat some minutes on the cheap.
- One day, Ben Simmons will shoot a running baby-hook from the paint and it won’t hit the front rim. One day…
- The Sixer vs. Sixer tonight was TJ vs. Joel in a name-as-many-colors as you can. If you’ve been following this column, you may realize we’ve seen this before. I won’t bore you, but TJ won by naming the entire rainbow and then whatever colors came to mind, narrowly edging out Joel’s strategy of just naming 4 colors and then saying ‘light’ or ‘dark’ of those same colors.
- There was a free frosty, but it felt undeserved, so I didn’t film it. I know – it was an off night for everyone.
- The only thing giving me a glimmer of hope going into the 4th was a surprisingly good dancer, this pop-and-lockin’ goofy fan with the open-collar shirt:
The Sixers played well this quarter, but not well enough. They won the 4th 25-19, but lost the game 107-119. I was preparing myself for a “too-little, too-late” loss or a “night we didn’t show up” or “night we were short-handed” or “[INSERT COPING EXCUSE],” but I got a whole new level of mad when Landry Shamet got absolutely hosed on a potential 4-point play:
At the time, Sixers were down 8. The correct call would have been rewarding Shamet with the made basket and the and-1 free-throw attempt. If he makes that, it’s a 4 point game with 2:49 to play – and the way Embiid was playing (totally threw the team on his back on the comeback trail…we don’t deserve him as fans), it felt like that Shamet play would have swung the game. It was absolutely insane this was called, and I can’t believe I’m still mad about it on a night where the Sixers played poorly for nearly 3+ quarters otherwise. Alas, a loss is a loss. Not even catching a t-shirt could help!
No Fresh water. No $1 pretzels. Sixers lose 107-119. Hopefully they can bounce back Friday against the Nuggets (I’ll be there!).
Next time I’m in 116, I’ll share some more views. Until then: 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!