BREAKING: The Philadelphia 76ers are not a good defensive team. Not even close.
The Sixers allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to set a franchise records for three point makes with 21 (18 through three quarters - which actually set the record at the time!) and lost 139-105. Those numbers are right. I even double-checked. But they don't matter, because I actually went to this game and thought it was terrific. And instead of recapping all of the defensive breakdowns and swishes of the ball through the net, I'm going to tell the story of how I ended up at the game in the first place.
I realized early in the day that I had been assigned game coverage. Realizing that my plans for Saturday night were made, I decided to try and get as much stuff done during the day as possible. The preview, obviously. Christmas shopping which just resulted in me getting more stuff I didn't need. Cleaning. I felt productive.
And then I realized that being alone in my apartment watching a meaningless Sixers game in December was a really awful way to spend a Saturday night. Knowing the snow/slush/rain disaster would keep people away, I figured Sixers tickets would be cheap. I don't live too far from there, so I decided going was a good idea.
As can happen in this town, few people are Sixers fans and even fewer of my real-life friends are - so I put the offer out to Twitter, less than an hour before the game started.
Wait is anyone actually going to the Sixers game tonight?— Scrooge O'Christmas (@soconnor76) December 15, 2013
Because I might actually go. Depends on the price I can get for lower level.— Scrooge O'Christmas (@soconnor76) December 15, 2013
With a group of like-minded people, including many fans, I thought maybe one would bite. My hopes initially started to drop with no positive responses. I then realized that there were two uber-cheap tickets courtside that I had to add to the pleas.
Then I got a response from someone I recognized and had talked to before but didn't really know well:
@soconnor76 70 for both? If you're down to go with a stranger then what's up man?— Dan Cenneno (@Framed_Ace) December 15, 2013
Good enough for me. I didn't actually know if Dan Cenneno was a real person. But hey, I guess there was an easy way to find out. So I left my apartment for South Philly, confident that I might have been meeting a real person to go to the Sixers game with.
The internet is a weird place.
Luckily for me, Dan was a real person. Also a really cool one. It was actually his first game attended in person. And as it turns out, he regularly reads LB nowadays, brought here because he read Mike Baumann at Crashburn Alley, then saw he wrote for us and had to check it out. Now he's a regular reader. Thanks, Mike!
So we went to the game, and got there kind of late since we did plan this completely on a whim. We ended up in different seats than the originally planned ones - closer to the court but one section over from the "center section." We ended up near the center part of the court, nearly behind the Sixers bench. The seats were amazing:
Nice view here, huh? pic.twitter.com/xH8s0dDvxQ— Scrooge O'Christmas (@soconnor76) December 15, 2013
The best part about rooting for a tanking team, aside from having a front office and coaching staff that are competent and having no bad outcomes (#TeamChill), is being able to see the team rather cheaply. Those tickets ended up costing about $46 each. On a slushy, miserable weather night, I went out and saw NBA basketball for under $50 in premium seating. And one really good team was on display.
Sure, the Sixers defense sucks. But the Blazers were just fantastic. They really do have great chemistry. Their passing and shooting prowess just completely tore the Sixers to shreds, and eventually the home team couldn't keep up.
But that didn't matter. The game was pure entertainment. Tony Wroten did Tony Wroten things all night, and it was all magical. Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young all played - we might not be able to say that going forward. Brandon Davies failed to convert a fast-break alley-oop for the second time in three games. Lavoy Allen hit a three.
Plus there's all the things you can miss when watching from home. You couldn't see Robin Lopez eloquently describe his completely logical and correct argument that the angle the ball traveled at out of bounds must have meant the ball last touched Hollis Thompson and not himself. You couldn't see Big Bertha (yeah, that's still a thing) or the rave party that accompanied her on the court in a 30+ point game with under 3 minutes left. You couldn't see Brett Brown completely ignore the officials when Terry Stotts decided to make Tony Wroten shoot free throws for some reason while up by infinity.
These things are all cool to see, and you largely miss them while replays and commentary air on the television broadcast.
Anyway, the Sixers lost, but that doesn't matter really. They're not a good NBA team right now, and the Blazers are. For now, I take solace in the fact that I can enjoy the team play with no real bad outcomes, sit five rows from the floor for under $50, meet a stranger who's now a friend, see a legitimately excellent team play excellently, find Jake Fischer in the stands, and then write about all of it here. The NBA is Fantastic.