By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Schedule release day is one of the most highly anticipated days of the NBA year. After the league had already provided tasty appetizers with the season opener in Washington, the Christmas Day game in New York, and the “home” game against Boston in London in January, Sixers fans were given the main course Monday with the release of the full 82-game schedule.
Here's the Sixers schedule. pic.twitter.com/53RM3UCAUE
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) August 14, 2017
On a team where Joel Embiid serves as a franchise cornerstone, the issue of rest is understandably foremost on people’s minds. The topic has been of paramount importance with the league also, as the NBA cut back on the number of preseason games and moved the start of the regular season up by a week. As a result, the NBA completely eliminated all 4 games-in-5 nights this season and scheduled fewer back-to-backs per team.
The Sixers will play 14 back-to-backs this season, slightly below the league average of 14.4. We won’t have to wait long to see how the team treats their oft-injured young center; Philadelphia’s first back-to-back set will come in the opening weekend of the season, with the home opener against Boston on October 20 immediately followed by an October 21 date in Toronto. Embiid’s durability will also be further tested on the team’s two 5-game, 9-day road trips, one in mid-November and one at the end of December.
Continuing the theme of increased expectations for the Sixers this offseason, basketball fans outside the Philadelphia area are going to see a lot more of Embiid, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, and company this season. The Sixers will play 23 nationally televised games (14 if you don’t count those contests on NBATV), with 9 each on ESPN and NBATV and 5 on TNT. The season finale on ESPN at home against the Bucks could wind up being a fun battle with playoff implications between two young, up-and-coming teams.
Of course, there will be plenty of marquee match-ups along the way. The Sixers will play the Warriors twice in mid-November, with the defending champions coming to Philadelphia on November 18. First overall pick Markelle Fultz will face off against second overall pick Lonzo Ball for the first time in Los Angeles on November 15th; the Big Baller Brand bandwagon will first arrive in Philadelphia on December 7. The new backcourt dynamic duo of Chris Paul and James Harden takes the Wells Fargo Center court on October 25, while the star-studded tandem of Russell Westbrook and Paul George arrives December 15. Finally, always a big draw, King James and the Cavaliers make a pair of stops in the city of brotherly love, November 27 and April 6.
82 games on the calendar. During which the Sixers will definitely come away with wins somewhere between 0 and 82 times, likely somewhere in-between. Even moreso than most seasons, it should make for a fun ride.