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 – Tuesday, April 23, 2019
For Game 5, Round 1 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, the 3rd seeded Sixers took on the 6th seeded Nets. The Sixers won 122-100, winning the best-of-seven-games series to 4-1.
I feel like I just wrote this. The last home game I attended was a blowout and this series-clincher was no different. I even wore the same outfit (and will continue to do so), bought the same beer at PJ Whelihan’s (and will continue to do so) and made the same dumb jokes all game to RJ (yes, I will absolutely continue to do so). Every thing every fan does matters and I’m certainly not about to mess with a winning formula!
I met RJ on a warm evening in Philadelphia to head down to the stadium. We parked in the Jetro lot and walked over to the Center, absolutely thrilled that we’d be getting free car flags decorate RJ’s car in the event of a win:
Joel Embiid was upgraded to “probable” for this game, which is better than “doubtful” or “questionable”. He absolutely crushed it in Game 4, so I was glad to see he’d take the court to help the team clinch the series. These are the moments that are etched in your mind as a fan – hearing Matt Cord announce a “SEVEN TWOOOOO CENTER” during a playoff close out game.
Ron Brooks belted out the anthem and rapper Lil Dicky rang the bell.
The Sixers came out with perhaps their best defensive effort of the season and won the quarter 32-15. Even better, they opened the game on a 14-0 run. It was clear the starters came to play – jumping passing lanes, grabbing rebounds, and challenging shots:
There really isn’t anything better as a fan than seeing your team come out strong to open an important playoff game. The starters threw an early shutout and set a tone that the team wouldn’t depart from the rest of the night:
Other 1st quarter observations:
- An 8-0 run to open the game caused an early timeout and thus an early gimmick. The time-honored Chik-Fil-A Challenge – the thing where a fan shoots a lay-up, free-throw, three-pointer, and half-court shot for various prizes – was pretty entertaining! The fan quickly made the first three shots, but couldn’t sink the half-court shot. The crowd rightfully applauded his efforts.
- Ben Simmons ended this quarter with an emphatic slam which…well…just take a look:
- Between quarters, I failed to get on the Carlton Cam but, you know what? Just seeing it actually get selected made me happy! At least I’ll always have the home-opener.
The Sixers continued their defensive dominance in the 2nd quarter and won 28-16, taking a 29-point lead (60-31) into halftime. This was essentially a continuation of the dominance from the first quarter. At one point, Joel Embiid slammed baseline and pointed at Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and I think my heart leapt out of my chest:
- No gimmicks to report this quarter, just the always fun Sixers Stixers drumline.
- Mike Scott unfortunately left the game with a right heel contusion during this quarter. Hopefully it won’t keep him out for Game 1 of Round 2.
- This half convinced me that a defensively-focused Sixers team can win the NBA Finals. For the first time since Robert Covington left, they were active and forcing turnovers while simultaneously limiting possessions by grabbing rebounds. With the offense clicking, it’s an absolute nightmare for opponents. The old adage “defense wins championships” can take on a fresh, new life with a team that features a locked-in Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, & Jimmy Butler.
- The halftime show was a guy named Rokardy who climbed on stuff that didn’t seem easy to climb on. I really have no idea how people get good at these sorts of activities!
The Sixers slightly built on their giant 1st half lead and won the 3rd quarter 35-33. They opened the quarter on an 8-0 run, which pushed the lead to 37 and, well that was really it for the game. As a fan, I was thrilled. No pressure meant time for FUN BABY!
Other 3rd quarter observations:
- RJ & I wondered if the Nets would “pack it in” being down big. They actually had a nice quarter offensively but didn’t show up defensively. I got the sense they came into the game happy with their season, knowing a 3-1 hole was tough to climb out of, and just sort of folded early. Our very own Jason Blevins reported as much post-game:
- Plenty of gimmicks this quarter! The Skills Challenge (where fans compete in a basketball obstacle course), the Big Head Race (exactly what it sounds like), and the 76ers Showdown (where fans mimic the dances of players) all took place and had an extra edge of fun due to the big lead:
- In sort of a last desperation attempt, the Nets went super-small and tried to expose noted sloth Boban Marjanovic. While the Nets shot well from mostly uncontested 3-point land, they didn’t really have an answer for Boban down-low. After trading 3 at a lower rate for 2 at a higher rate for a few minutes, it was clear this game was over.
The Sixers lost the all garbage-time 4th quarter 27-36. For the 2nd home game in a row (and hopefully not the last!) I got to use this Tweet:
I also unintentionally caught a shirt and gave it to a younger fan next to me. Ain’t I swell?
As time ran out, the stadium played “Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye”. What a way to close out the series!
Sixers WIN 122-100. Say it with me: “Fresh water. $1 pretzels.”
Oh and one more thing…RJ & I put those car flags to good use:
Now having won their Round 1 match-up, the Sixers will play the Toronto Raptors next for Round 2 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Without home court advantage, they’ll start off the series in Toronto. If the Sixers can bring the defense they brought in this game, they can definitely win the series – I can’t wait!
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 17-5 (including 2-1 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.