Sixers welcome back fans for the first time since the lockdown with a victory

After almost a year of empty seats at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers welcomed just more than 3,000 fans into the arena for their March 14 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Over the years, Philly fans have proven that they are a crucial part of the team’s success; statistically, the Wells Fargo Center is the most difficult arena for opposing teams to play in, with Philadelphia accumulating an impressive 48-8 home record dating back to the beginning of the 2019 season. Although the arena was only at 15 percent capacity March 14, those in attendance made it seem like a full house.

“The Wells Fargo 3,000 was completely different to Phoenix, Utah, Orlando… It feels like a fully packed arena, honestly, for us,” said All-Star Sixer Ben Simmons in a postgame interview on the Sixers website. 

From the opening tip, there was cheering left and right, and every three-point attempt, dunk, and layup was met with the roar of the crowd. The Sixers organization even left “welcome back” T-Shirts and rally towels on each seat for those in attendance to wave around. 

“The crowd of 3,100 felt much bigger when you were there. It felt like the players could really hear you, and we even got a nice ‘ref you suck!’ chant going on,” said Jonathan Becker, father of junior Audrey Becker, who attended the game.

The Spurs, who recently broke their 22-year-long playoff streak, came into Philadelphia undermanned, with their top players and former All-Stars DeMar DeRozan (personal reasons) and LaMarcus Aldridge (waiting to be traded) unavailable, and San Antonio would sorely miss their much-needed scoring against the division leading Sixers. The Spurs started slowly, scoring just 22 points in the first quarter to Philadelphia’s 33, but by halftime San Antonio’s Lonnie Walker and Derrick White had brought their team to within eight points. In the second half, however, the Sixers came out hitting on all cylinders, scoring 46 points in the third quarter alone, and the game turned into a 134-99 rout, even with the second and third teams playing the bulk of the fourth quarter. It seemed as if anyone who wore a cream-colored jersey couldn’t miss. Two key players for Philadelphia in this run were Matisse Thybulle, who accumulated three steals and several fast-break slams, and Furkan Korkmaz, who shot 4/4 from beyond the three point line and scored 16 points in total. 

The energy the fans brought that night did not go unnoticed by the players. Sixers forward Tobias Harris, expressed his gratitude in a postgame interview during the Sixers Postgame Show.

“We’ve played in a couple of arenas with fans but it felt like a packed crowd tonight, just how loud they were and the energy and the atmosphere,” Harris said. “For us, that was an added boost. It was just awesome for us to go out there and perform like that, but to also do it in front of our fans the first time they could be in the building in a long time.”