The Curious Case of the Sixers' Upper Deck

The Curious Case of the Sixers' Upper Deck

As Enrico and Roob Frank pointed out earlier this morning, the Sixers are still having trouble getting people physically in the building. Although the TV numbers are up, an encouraging sign about the wider interest level across the Delaware Valley, the increase in viewership might only be sending the the Sixers even further down attendance rankings. Even the promise of an improved "in-game experience" might not be enough to convince fans to part with the extra cash necessary to take in a game when they could watch the game for far cheaper at home.

With all these factors in play, consider the following question: If no one is coming, and attendance is really hurting, why couldn't I score three seats in the upper bowl today?

I ended up heading down to the game this afternoon with two buddies, looking to cash in on the team's deeply discounted ticket prices throughout the month of January. Much to my surprise, I was informed by a ticket representative at the box office that the entire upper bowl had been sold out, and the cheapest available tickets could be purchased for $49.95 each.

This...was rather perplexing, but not totally unthinkable. After all, $15 tickets for a winning basketball team are a steal, especially in this economy. And with hot dogs on sale for a buck, again, it was totally possible that they really had sold out the upper bowl.

And I suppose it is still possible that that's actually what happened; but if they did sell out upstairs, then a lot of people just failed to show. There were multiple rows in the mezzanine that sat completely vacant throughout the game. There were anywhere from 15-20 consecutive rows without patrons across almost every section downstairs.

Unable to focus on the exploits of Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino, I started wondering what was actually going on with the sales department.

The announced attendance for today's game came out to 17,281. There were, maybe, if we're ball-parking it, 13,000 in the building. But like I said, I couldn't get three together in the mez without finding a well-meaning gentleman in the parking lot who charged other than the face value.

There are plenty of tickets in that building that are bought and paid for. There would have to be to announce a number like 17,281. But the Sixers are now encountering a problem beyond a lack of interest.

Even if the team still has plenty of cheap seats available for those who buy in advance -- or purchase from the ticket brokers, scalpers and others who have bought up seats in bulk -- the lower bowl might just be pricing fans out of the building. After all, whether the fans are coming or not, the upper bowl has been taken care of and will continue to sell out, in way or another, each night. But the lower level, the one you see when you watch the game at home, that might be the real problem moving forward.

We asked you earlier, "What's keeping you away?" Now we're asking, "What happened to all those allegedly sold tickets?"

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”