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. Nets – Monday, April 15, 2019
For Game 2, Round 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the 3rd seeded Sixers took on the 6th seeded Nets. The Sixers won 145-123, evening the best-of-seven-games series to 1-1.
What a difference a game makes! As I covered last game, the Sixers coasted for the last four weeks of the season and got beat by an inferior Nets team at home. They responded with a haymaker in Game 2 – one that Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson saw coming and still couldn’t stop.
I met RJ on a cold night in Philadelphia to head down to the stadium. We parked in the Jetro lot and walked over to the Center, happy to hear that James Ennis III would be available. Yes, the Sixers’ lack of depth has come to this.
The mood in the stadium was much different ahead of Game 2 vs. Game 1. There was a nervous energy, and the seats were packed early. After an embarrassing Game 1, Game 2 took on a very “must win” atmosphere.
Ron Brooks belted out the anthem, and Dikembe Mutombo rang the bell.
The Sixers came out firing and won the quarter 34-28, led by an Aggressive Ben Simmons ™. It’s been well documented in this column throughout the season that the Best Ben Simmons is Aggressive Ben Simmons ™. Attacking the rim is the hope…but pumping up the crowd afterwards? That’s the dream:
Other 1st quarter observations:
- The only gimmick of the quarter was the Fast Play Money Machine, which is when a fan steps into a phone booth of floating cash and grabs as much as they can. This fan seemed to do a pretty good job, utilizing the popular “shirt-scoop” technique for maximum cash.
- The refs were all over the place this game, but started the game very lenient, letting both teams play through contact. They eventually tightened up, but the leniency was sort of nice vs. the tight whistle from Game 1.
- The first Sixers off the bench were James Ennis III and Mike Scott, indicating that Jon Simmons might be out of the rotation. Thankfully this proved to be the case, which allowed Ennis to end the night with a +/- of +14. I’ll take this every day of the week over the -16 that Jon Simmons posted in Game 1.
The Sixers lost this quarter 31-36, taking a 1-point lead (65-64) into halftime. They played the quarter fairly well up until about the 4 min mark, and then were called for some strange fouls (including an Embiid Flagrant 1) to let the Nets back into the game. The defense also started to slip as the quarter went on, and I found myself wanting to see James Ennis yet again.
James Ennis being “the difference” for this team defensively is…something.
- Between the quarters, there was a Skee ball game and 76ers Showdown dance contest. Both were OK, nothing particularly interesting to report. What was pretty interesting was Franklin dressed as recent Masters winner Tiger Woods later in the quarter.
- Jonah Bolden got some minutes this quarter and was serviceable on defense. Brett Brown didn’t go to TJ McConnell or Jon Simmons until garbage time late in the game, which seemed to be the right decision. The plan was clearly “let’s put our best defensive lineups out there,” and it worked. Kudos to Brett!
- Plenty of stars were in the building – most importantly, DeSean “The Man” Jackson.
- A very fun thing that has happened with Boban is his willingness to shoot when the crowd asks him to. He’s an awesome shooter when open, so I’m all for it:
- RJ and I met up with Jason Blevins at the half and talked about the “boo” debate that had been going on since Game 1. I’m very much in the “boo players when they’re playing well beneath their ability” camp. RJ was more in the “don’t boo your own players” camp. I think Jason put it nicely, saying something along the lines of, “You can boo your own players, but only on effort-based things. Can’t boo them for missing shots, but can do it for lack of defensive effort.” Always fun to chat with the good people of PFO.
In what would be the story of the game, the Sixers won the 3rd quarter 51-23. They scored 51 points. 51!!! This bonkers quarter was highlighted by Ben Simmons cupping his hand to his ear, reminiscent of the great Allen Iverson. Later, Ben would attribute this to the effort he wanted to show the fans.
As a fan, I’m elated with how Ben responded after a lackluster Game 1. Taking in the boos and using them as motivation to drive the team to success in the next game is exactly the kind of behavior that endears an athlete to Philadelphia. I’m really proud of Ben and hope he keeps the aggression going throughout the playoffs.
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- The Sixers opened the quarter with a 14-0 run, which again just hammers home the point that the Best Ben Simmons is Aggressive Ben Simmons ™.
- There weren’t any gimmicks this quarter – just the lame Beard Cam. The Sixers Stixers performed, which is always nice.
- We got to see some “Point Jimmy” this quarter, which will happen when TJ McConnell is out of the rotation. It seemed to work well against Brooklyn, and I’d expect to see it more with TJ benched.
- Asking on behalf of all fans – can we do something about the font size of the replay review information graphics? They’re tiny!:
- The Sixers ended the 3rd quarter up 116-87, which is exactly what you hope for *checks notes* Game 2 of a playoff series!?
The Sixers lost the mostly garbage-time 4th 29-36. Greg Monroe, TJ McConnell, and Jon Simmons got big minutes here. So did Furkan Korkmaz, who any given fan might be able to beat in an arm-wrestling contest.
And to cap off the night? Free Frosties!
Sixers WIN 145-123. Say it with me: “Fresh water. $1 pretzels.”
The Sixers are now tied 1-1 and play again in Brooklyn on Thursday for Game 3. They responded very well in Game 2 after a rusty embarrassment in Game 1. I’m hoping they take the next two games in Brooklyn and closeout at home. We’ll see!
Next time I’m in 116, I’ll share some more views. Until then: 1-2-3-4-5-Sixers!
Note: The Sixers are now 16-5 (including 1-1 in the playoffs) while Eric Marturano has attended games this season. Every thing every fan does matters – don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.