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. Kings – Friday, March 15, 2019
Yesterday, the 43-25 Sixers took on the 33-34 Kings. The Sixers won 123-114, improving to 44-25 while the Kings fell to 33-35.
I took the subway down early to meet up with my dad and my brother, Jim, who got tickets in my section. On the way, I listened to a great interview on The Burner that Jason Blevins had with Nadia Haven, CEO of Marakana. I had met Nadia at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference just a few weeks ago and shared some drinks with her and Jason for a while after the conference ended. So it was cool to hear Jason interview her on the podcast. It’s worth a listen, so definitely check it out!
I also saw that Ben Simmons and Mike Scott, who were dealing with upper respiratory infections, would be available. This season, it seems like way too many Sixers have had upper respiratory infections – what exactly is going on? Can we get this team a dehumidifier or something, please?
Once I got to the stadium and met up with my dad & Jim, we grabbed some food from Shake Shack and then found my cousin Nicole, her husband Joe, and son Joe Jr. to hang out as a group before the game. It’s always nice to catch up with family – Jim & Joe Jr. even got to play pop-a-shot:
RJ arrived close to tip-off, so I met him at the gate near our section and handed him his ticket. By the way, I highly recommend this method of ticket transferal if you’re meeting someone at the stadium: since there’s some space between security and ticket-scan, you can have whoever you’re meeting clear security and then hand them their ticket to gain entry to the stadium. It’s quite easy. This might seem obvious to some, but not everyone does this, and it can save a lot of time/hassle of trying to coordinate ahead of time, standing outside the stadium at some weird meet-up point, or using will-call, etc. The more you know!
As we took our seats, we wondered if Corey Brewer (now a Sacramento King) would pull any antics. I’ll be honest – I really miss his nonsense and sort of wish we still had him.
Local singer Joy Hargaust sang the anthem and RETURNING PHILADELPHIA EAGLE DESEAN JACKSON (!!) RANG THE BELL! DeSean got an extremely warm welcome from the crowd – I’m THRILLED to have him back in Philly!
The Sixers started out pretty strong and won the opening quarter 33-29. What stood out to me early was Embiid’s energy and the strong bench play. Embiid came out hot and had a bounce to him – and put it to use on some nice jams:
Meanwhile, Boban & TJ had strong bench minutes, with Boban getting whatever he wanted within 5 feet and TJ putting on some great moves:
The bench generally played well tonight and seemed to be in a playoff-audition of sorts for Brett Brown (who coached wonderfully). It’s definitely worth watching these lineup rotations going forward.
Other 1st quarter observations:
- The crowd booed Nemanja Bjelica every time he touched the ball and started early. You may remember Bjelica from this summer, when he welched on his deal with the Sixers. He ended the game 2-11 from the field with 4 pts and a -7 +/-. Maybe we’re better off without him.
- The first gimmick happened fairly early, around the 8-minute mark, and was the Old City Dancers. As you may have guessed, this is just a bunch of old people dancing – which is very fun and always gets laughs!
- Ben Simmons came out aggressive and was all downhill, bouncing off people like a running back in traffic. Aggressive Ben remains the best Ben.
- Redick got off to a slow start offensively, despite getting some decent looks. He ended up 4-9 from 3pt, but the early dry spell really made me question if he should still be a starter come playoff time. I really believe against deep and athletic teams like the Celtics, Raptors, and Bucks that Redick becomes borderline unplayable, as he’s too much of a liability on defense.
- To that point about Redick, I’m more curious if Brett Brown will start to play around around with a starting (or at least crunch-time) lineup of Simmons-Butler-Ennis-Harris-Embiid. Doing so helps in a few ways – for one, it allows Butler to play his natural position of shooting guard, but also makes Harris (who is a decent defender) our “weakest link” on defense, which is a favorable proposition. Separately, limited minutes for Redick might maximize his energy when on the court and help his shooting percentage. Given that the Sixers have 13 games left, I’m curious to see how Brett Brown tests out different lineups to see “what he has” come playoff time.
The Sixers tied this quarter 29-29 and maintained their 4 pt lead through halftime. It wasn’t a particularly well played quarter – the offense was stagnant at times. However, Jimmy Butler started to make a noticeable impact this quarter and would go on to lead the team with 22 pts (and a +20 +/-). He is VERY good at getting fouled (and strong enough to finish crazy plays):
- The Chick-Fil-A Parachute drop, which is the thing where chicken sandwiches rain from the sky, happened between quarters. As per usual, my section (which is in a bit of a dead spot for where the sandwiches are dropped from) missed out.
- There was a “shoot for your season” as well, but nobody hit the half court shot. In fact, there were many people not taking running starts and leaving the ball comically short. These people don’t deserve to shoot for their season whatsoever – if you’re going to treat a half-court shot like a foul-shot, you had better have the strength to get the ball to the basket. Otherwise, you look like a big dweeb.
- TJ did his patented in-bound steal, which he seems to do every game.
Seriously, I have no idea why he’s so good at this. It’s the exact sort of high-energy play you want from a bench player, and the one he pulled off this quarter took a tie game where the opponent had the ball and turned into a 3pt advantage. TJ remains a gamer.
- RJ caught a shirt, which means you know it was a good night:
- The “Cap Race” gimmick (sponsored by New Era) happened this quarter. I’m sick of all of these sponsored gimmicks – it’s been months without a Carlton Cam, and unless the Alfonso Ribeiro foundation wants to sponsor it, we may never see it again. Enough pre-determined videos – give me something fun and for the people!
- Mike Scott hard-fouled someone in an extremely nonchalant way this quarter and it 100% convinced me that he will fight someone in the playoffs. I really hope that someone is a Celtic.
At halftime, we met up with my Dad and Jim and took this goofy picture:
We also watched speed-painter David Garibaldi paint something that vaguely resembled TJ McConnell:
The Sixers won this quarter 37-31 and took a 10 pt lead into the 4th quarter. The keys for me were this lineup:
and the continued stellar play from Jimmy Butler, who, again, crushed it tonight:
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- Kings guard De’Aaron Fox was sporting what I call the “Dread Pirate Roberts” bandana for most of the game. Jimmy Butler has worn this a few times, as have many other players in the league. The weird thing about this look is it’s pretty new to the NBA this year – I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it in prior years. While I have no idea where it came from, I’m a big fan of this look, as well as most weird accessories for athletes.
- As far as gimmicks go, the most interesting one this quarter was the skills challenge relay. Two groups of fans again put up stellar times of 15.9 sec and 14.8 respectively on a weave-around defenders, pass through a target, hand-off to teammate, weave-around defenders, make a layup. Sign them up!
- The “Price is Right” gimmick occurred this quarter as well. As usual, it was not that much fun and a poor advertisement for Shop-Rite.
- There was also a successful proposal this quarter – congrats to the happy couple!
The Sixers actually lost this quarter by 1 pt: 24-25. However, they held on to win the game, largely thanks to some good coaching by Brett Brown and some incredible defense by Joel Embiid:
Embiid iced the game with a nice bucket over Willie Cauley-Stein in the final minutes:
It’s nice when a good plan comes together. Some added hustle from TJ McConnell didn’t hurt either.
Sixers WIN 123-114. Say it with me: “Fresh water. $1 pretzels.”
The Sixers have 13 games left to maintain their hold on 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
Next time I’m in 116, I’ll share some more views. Until then: 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!
Note: The Sixers are 13-3 while Eric Marturano has attended games this season. Every thing every fan does matters – don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.