Philadelphia 76ers' 2019-20 Schedule Opens The Door To A Hot Start

Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 29: Ben Simmons #25 and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers watch play in the final minutes during a 121-105 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 29, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

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After overhauling their starting five during the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely need time to coalesce.

They caught a break with their early-season schedule, which the NBA released Monday.

The Sixers lucked into one of the easiest slates of opponents in October and November, according to Jared Dubin of FanSided.

They begin the season at home against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 23, which will be a great first test. The Celtics gave the Sixers fits over the past few seasons, although both teams will come into that opening-night matchup touting vastly different lineups.

During his time with the Celtics, Al Horford used to torment Sixers star big man Joel Embiid, but he'll now be suiting up alongside the two-time All-Star. Although the Celtics pulled off their "plan A" by replacing Horford and Kyrie Irving with Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker, respectively, they appear weaker on paper than they were a year ago.

Regardless of what happens against Boston, the Sixers will then have two days' rest before kicking off a three-game stretch against teams that may struggle to crack .500 this year.

  • Saturday, Oct. 26: at Detroit Pistons
  • Monday, Oct. 28: at Atlanta Hawks
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Embiid and Horford give Philly the size to match up well with Pistons center Andre Drummond and Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, while Josh Richardson should help to contain Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, the Rookie of the Year runner-up.

At worst, the Sixers should come out of those first four games 2-2, although 3-1 or 4-0 are realistic possibilities. From there, they'll embark upon a four-game road trip that includes a few potential landmines.

  • Saturday, Nov. 2: at Portland Trail Blazers
  • Monday, Nov. 4: at Phoenix Suns
  • Wednesday, Nov. 6: at Utah Jazz
  • Friday, Nov. 8: at Denver Nuggets

While the Sixers dodge any back-to-backs during this stretch, the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Nuggets won't be pushovers. The Blazers made it to the Western Conference Finals this past season—although Embiid has historically owned new Blazers center Hassan Whiteside—and the Nuggets and Jazz figure to wind up with two of the best records of any team in the West.

Despite their offseason upgrades, the Suns should be safely penciled in as a W. As long as the Sixers steal one other win on this trip, they'll have a chance to fatten up against their next group of opponents.

  • Sunday, Nov. 10: vs. Charlotte Hornets
  • Tuesday, Nov. 12: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13: at Orlando Magic
  • Friday, Nov. 15: at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Sunday, Nov. 17: at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20: vs. New York Knicks

The Hornets and Cavaliers project to be two of the NBA's worst teams this coming season. The former replaced All-Star point guard Kemba Walker with Terry Rozier, who has yet to shoot above 40 percent in his four NBA seasons, while the latter will rely upon a pair of young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland who will be overmatched more often than not.

The Thunder and Knicks could be somewhat frisky, but they lack the top-end talent necessary to put a scare into the Sixers. Without Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Thunder will likely struggle to score against the Sixers' supersized lineup, while the Knicks' mish-mash of veteran role players and inconsistent young lottery picks could quickly devolve into a miasma of me-first shot-jacking.

A road game against the Magic should be the toughest game in this stretch, as Orlando made the playoffs last season and has no shortage of talented forwards and bigs. If Markelle Fultz's seemingly improved shooting stroke carries over into the regular season, he'll undoubtedly be eager to torch the team that gave up on him a year-and-a-half after trading up to select him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

A 6-0 run through this stretch of games isn't unthinkable, and at worst, the Sixers will likely go 4-2. They'll need to take advantage of that run, as the end of the month features a number of matchups against potential playoff teams.

  • Friday, Nov. 22: vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • Saturday, Nov. 23: vs. Miami Heat
  • Monday, Nov. 25: at Toronto Raptors
  • Wednesday, Nov. 27: vs. Sacramento Kings
  • Friday, Nov. 29: at New York Knicks
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: vs. Indiana Pacers

The Sixers may catch a break against the Pacers, as Victor Oladipo's early-season availability remains uncertain while he recovers from the torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in January. However, they'll be coming off a back-to-back against the Knicks the night before, which could throw Joel Embiid's availability into question.

The prior week, the Sixers have another back-to-back against the Spurs and the Heat that could prove tricky. The latter will be Jimmy Butler's first game back in Philadelphia since he fled to Miami in free agency, which could cause the Sixers to overlook the Spurs.

Even if the new-look Sixers do require time to develop chemistry with one another, this soft early-season slate should afford them the opportunity to do so without sacrificing wins. They should also have plenty of chances to rest Embiid and keep him fresh for a more demanding schedule between Christmas Day and the All-Star break.

If the Sixers dodge some early trap games, they could cement themselves as one of the favorites in the East with a hot start against a weak schedule.

 

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After overhauling their starting five during the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers will likely need time to coalesce.

They caught a break with their early-season schedule, which the NBA released Monday.

The Sixers lucked into one of the easiest slates of opponents in October and November, according to Jared Dubin of FanSided.

They begin the season at home against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 23, which will be a great first test. The Celtics gave the Sixers fits over the past few seasons, although both teams will come into that opening-night matchup touting vastly different lineups.

During his time with the Celtics, Al Horford used to torment Sixers star big man Joel Embiid, but he'll now be suiting up alongside the two-time All-Star. Although the Celtics pulled off their "plan A" by replacing Horford and Kyrie Irving with Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker, respectively, they appear weaker on paper than they were a year ago.

Regardless of what happens against Boston, the Sixers will then have two days' rest before kicking off a three-game stretch against teams that may struggle to crack .500 this year.

  • Saturday, Oct. 26: at Detroit Pistons
  • Monday, Oct. 28: at Atlanta Hawks
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30: vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Embiid and Horford give Philly the size to match up well with Pistons center Andre Drummond and Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, while Josh Richardson should help to contain Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, the Rookie of the Year runner-up.

At worst, the Sixers should come out of those first four games 2-2, although 3-1 or 4-0 are realistic possibilities. From there, they'll embark upon a four-game road trip that includes a few potential landmines.

  • Saturday, Nov. 2: at Portland Trail Blazers
  • Monday, Nov. 4: at Phoenix Suns
  • Wednesday, Nov. 6: at Utah Jazz
  • Friday, Nov. 8: at Denver Nuggets

While the Sixers dodge any back-to-backs during this stretch, the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Nuggets won't be pushovers. The Blazers made it to the Western Conference Finals this past season—although Embiid has historically owned new Blazers center Hassan Whiteside—and the Nuggets and Jazz figure to wind up with two of the best records of any team in the West.

Despite their offseason upgrades, the Suns should be safely penciled in as a W. As long as the Sixers steal one other win on this trip, they'll have a chance to fatten up against their next group of opponents.

  • Sunday, Nov. 10: vs. Charlotte Hornets
  • Tuesday, Nov. 12: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Wednesday, Nov. 13: at Orlando Magic
  • Friday, Nov. 15: at Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Sunday, Nov. 17: at Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20: vs. New York Knicks

The Hornets and Cavaliers project to be two of the NBA's worst teams this coming season. The former replaced All-Star point guard Kemba Walker with Terry Rozier, who has yet to shoot above 40 percent in his four NBA seasons, while the latter will rely upon a pair of young guards in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland who will be overmatched more often than not.

The Thunder and Knicks could be somewhat frisky, but they lack the top-end talent necessary to put a scare into the Sixers. Without Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Thunder will likely struggle to score against the Sixers' supersized lineup, while the Knicks' mish-mash of veteran role players and inconsistent young lottery picks could quickly devolve into a miasma of me-first shot-jacking.

A road game against the Magic should be the toughest game in this stretch, as Orlando made the playoffs last season and has no shortage of talented forwards and bigs. If Markelle Fultz's seemingly improved shooting stroke carries over into the regular season, he'll undoubtedly be eager to torch the team that gave up on him a year-and-a-half after trading up to select him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

A 6-0 run through this stretch of games isn't unthinkable, and at worst, the Sixers will likely go 4-2. They'll need to take advantage of that run, as the end of the month features a number of matchups against potential playoff teams.

  • Friday, Nov. 22: vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • Saturday, Nov. 23: vs. Miami Heat
  • Monday, Nov. 25: at Toronto Raptors
  • Wednesday, Nov. 27: vs. Sacramento Kings
  • Friday, Nov. 29: at New York Knicks
  • Saturday, Nov. 30: vs. Indiana Pacers

The Sixers may catch a break against the Pacers, as Victor Oladipo's early-season availability remains uncertain while he recovers from the torn quadriceps tendon he suffered in January. However, they'll be coming off a back-to-back against the Knicks the night before, which could throw Joel Embiid's availability into question.

The prior week, the Sixers have another back-to-back against the Spurs and the Heat that could prove tricky. The latter will be Jimmy Butler's first game back in Philadelphia since he fled to Miami in free agency, which could cause the Sixers to overlook the Spurs.

Even if the new-look Sixers do require time to develop chemistry with one another, this soft early-season slate should afford them the opportunity to do so without sacrificing wins. They should also have plenty of chances to rest Embiid and keep him fresh for a more demanding schedule between Christmas Day and the All-Star break.

If the Sixers dodge some early trap games, they could cement themselves as one of the favorites in the East with a hot start against a weak schedule.

 

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I cover the Philadelphia 76ers and NBA salary-cap issues for Forbes. I've been writing about the NBA since 2009 on websites such as Bleacher Report, BBALLBREAKDOWN, FanS...