Washington is scheduled to host the 76ers in the best-of-seven series for Game 3 on Saturday, Game 4 on Monday and, if necessary, Game 6 on June 4.
In addition to the increased capacity, fans who did not purchase seats together will be able to sit close for the first time since Capital One Arena began welcoming spectators again in late April. Social distancing guidelines will no longer exist for most seat locations, though fans will be required to wear masks when seated and to follow all other recently established arena protocols, including the “no bags” policy.
Previously, fans purchasing seats in groups of two to four were spread throughout the arena, sometimes dispersing and dampening crowd noise and energy. In Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Arena sat the bulk of its fans in the lower bowl, leaving the large majority of the top tier empty.
Asked Sunday about handling the moment of playing in his first playoff game since 2018, Wizards guard Bradley Beal mentioned how much Philadelphia’s fans contributed to the atmosphere. Die-hards at 76ers games are famously fervent, even before tip-off. At one point during Sunday’s game, the arena’s sound system had to be cranked up to drown out one particularly profane serenade directed at Wizards guard Russell Westbrook.
“It’s tough, especially with the crowd, because we haven’t had a crowd all year,” Beal said. “The crowd definitely plays a factor, especially here in Philly. Their fans get rowdy. It’s tough. You’ve just got to settle in, and you’ve got to understand that it’s just another game. As big and as intense as it is, it’s just another game. We all have the skill and the ability to go out and play at the highest level. So, enjoy it.”
The change comes a few weeks ahead of the city’s plan to lift capacity restrictions fully on June 11.