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NBA moves Sixers vs. Rockets game to national television

Get your popcorn ready.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a schedule change, the Sixers will get another crack at showing a national audience what they can do. Late Tuesday evening, the NBA announced their decision to move next Friday’s Sixers vs. Rockets game to primetime. Friday’s Bulls-Heat game, previously scheduled for the 8 p.m. slot on ESPN, has been bumped to local coverage.

Joel Embiid is one of the NBA’s breakout stars this season. “The Process” is winning fans over with his social media antics and play on the court, putting the young center on the precipice of an All-Star appearance. A Friday night matchup with the up-tempo Rockets, featuring MVP candidate James Harden at the controls of Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo attack, is as good as it gets.

Now let’s move on to some baseless speculation!

Shortly after the league announced the schedule change, Ben Simmons took to Instagram to unload this post:

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Later in the evening, he publicized an appearance at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden:


A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

A national television debut on a Friday night would be pretty damn sweet. Simmons is no stranger to hype, and if he was somehow able to make it back by then, it would be the biggest event of the Sixers’ season so far.

The young forward has appeared in some five-on-zero drills with his team, but there’s been no word on him inching any closer to his Sixers debut. The team has avoided setting a timeline for his return — common practice after the Andrew Bynum debacle — and we’re mostly left to guess when it could come.

Is it likely he’ll suit up next Friday night? Probably not. He needs to get integrated in more team drills before he can do this thing for real. Talented as he is, throwing the rookie to the wolves without proper prep time would be unwise.

In any case, things are looking up for the Sixers. Wins over playoff teams have helped punctuate the team’s best batch of basketball in three seasons, and they’re getting rewarded for that play with a primetime game. The No. 1 overall pick looks closer and closer to debuting. For now, everything’s coming up Sixers.

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