Ever since June 22 when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Markelle Fultz was the first overall selection made by the Sixers, fans in Philadelphia were set to see the team start playing games immediately.
When the NBA released the schedule for the 2017-18 season Monday night, it took us one step closer to seeing the team in action. The Sixers finally received some spotlight on the national level, receiving 14 nationally televised games with nine on ESPN and five on TNT. The team will have 14 sets of back to back games, four less than last season, which grants players more rest throughout the season. Their longest home stint comes in a six-game, 12-day overall homestand, while the longest road trip, which they’ll have on two separate occasions, is a five-game, nine-day excursion.
With all of the excitement building up to the start of the season, here are six of the best games that stood out to me on the schedule that Sixers fans should be looking forward to this season:
October 20 vs. Boston Celtics
This will easily be the craziest atmosphere for a Sixers home opener in the past decade. The first chance for fans to finally see The Process come together on the court, against their most hated rival? The Wells Fargo Center will be ecstatic that night and it will definitely be a sight to see. This game gives the Sixers a great chance to see how they measure up with one of the best teams in basketball as Boston was last year’s top seed in the Eastern Conference. They also added coveted star SG Gordon Hayward, who left the Utah Jazz in free agency after averaging almost 22 PPG last season. The Sixers will look to earn the win in front of their home crowd to show them what’s in store for the rest of the season, and hopefully years to come.
November 15 @ Los Angeles Lakers
This may not be the most appealing game on a schedule given the talent on Los Angeles, but how satisfying would it be to see the Sixers beat the breaks off Lonzo Ball and the Lakers in LA? Given all the trash talk throughout the offseason by Laker fans, this would be the best way to prove that we are clearly the more dominant team. It will definitely be exciting to see Fultz and Ben Simmons, the past two #1 overall picks, face-off against Ball and Brandon Ingram, the past two #2 overall picks. Fultz will be out to prove he is the best player in this year’s draft despite what others around the league say about Ball, so I expect him to have a great game there under the bright lights of LA and in front of the ESPN cameras. Also, Joel Embiid may want to give LaVar Ball a first hand look at his dominance on the court to see what he’s been missing out on. The Lakers will visit Philadelphia on December 7, where the Sixers fans will be sure to let the Ball family how they feel about them.
December 25 @ New York Knicks
Christmas came early for Sixers fans last week when the news broke that they would be playing a game on Christmas Day for the first time since 2001. On yet another nationally televised game, the Sixers will once again be on display for everyone to watch against one of the league’s most valuable, but overrated, franchises. Carmelo Anthony may not even be on the team next week let alone a few months from now, leaving the Knicks with very little around Kristaps Porzingis and not enough to be able to keep up with the Sixers. Even if Carmelo is still in New York during that time, I expect an extra present Christmas afternoon this year in a Sixers victory.
November 18 vs. Golden State Warriors
It would be senseless to sit here and predict a Sixers win against maybe one of the most lethal scoring teams in NBA history, so I won’t go there. However, this is another game to see exactly where the Sixers stand right now against the most dominant team in the NBA. This will not be the first game against the Warriors this season, as they play out in Oracle Arena exactly a week prior to this game. The Center should be sold out for this game with players such as Steph Curry and Draymond Green making their only appearance in Philadelphia. It will also be great to see how our stars stack up against the defending NBA champs. When the Warriors won a record 73 games in the 2015-16 season, they narrowly escaped the Sixers in a 108-105 win at the Center. They were 43-4. We were 7-41. Anything can happen.
January 11 vs. Boston Celtics
This will be the third meeting between these rivals during the season, but this one is a special one in particular. This game will be played at the O2 Arena in London, England and will be televised nationally on NBATV. Obviously the fact that this is a Sixers-Celtics game alone means it will be entertaining, but the fact that it is played out in London, where many of the players on both sides have never played, makes it a great experience in itself. Expanding the NBA outside of just the United States is great for the game, and when the fans out in London see a Sixers win in person, it will also expand the Sixers fan base overseas as well.
November 27 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
This is a marquee matchup every time the Cavs come to town, and with the revamped Sixers team finally set to be unleashed against them, it will be an even more desirable event. This is the first visit Lebron James will make to Philadelphia this season, and hopefully he doesn’t want to return after this one. With or without All-Star PG Kyrie Irving, who recently requested a trade out of Cleveland, the Cavs still remain one of the premier teams in the NBA and will still play a tough, gritty game as they always have since Lebron arrived there. The matchup that will be fun to watch here will be Simmons vs. Lebron. As they become close friends off the court, expect two of the biggest competitors in the game to go right at each other for most of the game as we sit back and enjoy the rivalry.