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 – Thursday, March 28, 2019
Yesterday, the 47-27 Sixers took on the 38-37 Nets. The Sixers won 123-110, improving to 48-27 (3rd seed in the East) while the Nets fell to 38-38 (7th seed in the East).
I took the subway down to catch the end of the Phillies opening day at Xfinity Live (they beat the Braves 10-4) ahead of the Sixers/Nets possible playoff preview. I say possible because the 6 through 10 slots in the Eastern Conference are currently separated by a total of 2.5 games (with ~7 games left to play). Meanwhile, the top of the East is essentially set (Bucks at 1, Raptors at 2, Sixers at 3, Pacers/Celtics at the 4/5). The NBA – where meaningless playoff jockeying happens!
The only Nets fan I’ve ever met, my buddy Christian, joined me for this game. Shortly after I enjoyed some Good Charlotte, we met up and entered the stadium. This game felt like a win before the tip – not only because I had an opposing fan joining me, but because the Sixers just dropped two in a row to the tanking(?) Hawks and the Orlando “somehow still in the mix” Magic. Back at home after a rocky road trip? Give me Joel Hans GetTheHellOuttaMyWay Embiid & the headband crew.
The national anthem was played (quite well!) on the violin by 13-year-old talent Pilar Hill, and Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder rang the bell.
The Sixers started out VERY strong and won the opening quarter 38-23. They couldn’t miss from three – Embiid hit his first three attempts, and the rest of the team just followed suit. They’d end the night at 48% from beyond-the-arc, but shot what felt like 90% in the first half.
It’s nice when the shots are falling!
Other 1st quarter observations:
- The defense looked decent early on, which was nice to see after some poor outings against the Hawks and Magic. The Sixers will continue to tread water in the standings until playoff time, but it’s good to see some sense of urgency after two bad losses.
- Instead of a gimmick early on, the team thanked Billy Lange (who is leaving the Sixers for St. Joe’s University) with a tribute video and jumbotron message. Brett Brown spoke quite highly of him, so I’m sure he’ll be missed. What was also missed this quarter was gimmicks –not any (just the Sixers dancers & SEPTA fan cam, which stinks).
- The first lineup off the bench was TJ-Butler-Harris-Scott-Boban, which is becoming the trend. I very much like this lineup, believe in this lineup, and want to see more of it.
- Shake Milton got some early run and ended the night with 17 minutes, 2/3 from the field and a +4 plus/minus. Sadly, no Zhaire Smith appearances this game (and not so sadly, no Jonathon Simmons appearances). The absence of James Ennis III opened up the lineup a bit, and I was glad to see Shake get some work. I’d expect to see more of him (and hopefully Zhaire Smith!) over the final seven games as Brett Brown uses this weird part of the season where the Sixers can’t really improve from or fall out of the 3 seed to figure out what he has in his younger guys for next year. Note that the odds of Shake Milton playing in the playoffs are extremely low, since it would require the Sixers to forgo the ability to sign him to a 4-yr rookie deal in favor of a 1-yr contract now. Shoutout to @WalkWithLyle for mentioning this the other day.
The Sixers actually lost this quarter 30-35 despite maintaining control of the game. I blame the refs, who were pretty bad (both ways) and at one point made both Christian and I nervous that they’d totally lose control of the game. Hope this doesn’t happen in the playoffs…if it does, I know just the chant:
- 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.
- The “New Era Cap Race,” which needs to stay at the Phillies games, occurred. All children under the age of 6 were surely thrilled!
- The “Big Head” race also took place this quarter. I’m not even giving a picture or courtesy explanation of this anymore – just please, for me, claim the $50 prize I’m offering and steal one of the big heads. It’s all I ask.
- At halftime, Christian & I caught up with my pal Joe Stern, who was in the building for some business-related activities. Always nice to share a beer with good people behind section 116!
The Sixers won this quarter 30-24 and took a 16 point lead into the 4th quarter. This game felt over during this quarter because not only were the Sixers well in control but a free frosty had occurred:
Shortly after, the Philadelphia Eagles (not to be upstaged by a Sixers and Phillies win!) traded a bag of potato chips for 24 year old stud running back Jordan Howard. All is well!
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- As far as gimmicks go, the most interesting one this quarter was the skills challenge relay. Two groups of fans entertained the crowd by weaving-around defenders, passing through a target, handing-off to teammate, weaving-around defenders again, and making a layup. Always a good gimmick!
- 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. I didn’t even have to change this sentence vs. last post…it remains true now and forever.
- Christian told me a bonkers story about how he played against and got dunked on by Shabazz Napier in high school. I just needed to share that with someone.
- The two-man game between Joel Embiid & Ben Simmons has really taken off. More on this next quarter, but here’s a nice highlight:
- The Sixers ended the quarter up 98-82.
The Sixers actually lost this quarter by 3 pts: 25-28. However, they got not one, not two, but THREE frosty freeze-outs, thereby getting everyone in the stadium a MEDIUM free frosty and MEDIUM free fries. Why live large when you can LIVE MEDIUM, BABY!!!
Embiid ended the game with 39 pts & 13 rebs. He also had some more two-man game-action with Simmons – this is where the team needs to go…I’m really not sure how any team stops this:
Sixers WIN 123-110. Say it with me: “Fresh water. $1 pretzels.”
The Sixers have seven games left to maintain their hold on 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, and barring a collapse, that’s where they’ll end up.
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 14-3 while Eric Marturano has attended games this season. Every thing every fan does matters – don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.