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Sixers-Wizards: Game preview, schedule, start time

Pictured: One player who will not play tonight and another who might not.

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards - sans John Wall - come to town tonight to face off against the Sixers for the first time since this year’s season opener. We’ll get to that in a second, but I want to talk about strength of schedule.

Tonight, the Sixers look to go 4-2 on a season-long six-game homestand and take losses from the best team in each conference.

After tonight’s game, the Sixers enter another arduous stretch, with only two of the next seven games against teams with losing records. They play 3 of the 4 teams in front of them in the East (and the 4th twice not long after). When people keep bringing up the point about the Sixers’ schedule being the league’s toughest, it’s not just a talking point. The team’s strength of schedule - where 0 is average and a negative number means an easier schedule - is 2.33 (also hardest on ESPN, but measured differently). The next closest team in the East (and only team above 1) is the Knicks with 1.22. In the West, only three teams have a SOS above 1 and they all have losing records.

The Sixers are the league’s 5th best team in ESPN’s Relative Percent Index - a very fancy stat that is 25% team winning percentage, 50% opponents' average winning percentage, and 25% opponents' opponents' average winning percentage. This is not to forgive bad losses. Every team’s job is to beat the team that’s in front of them. No one goes back in time to look at who the NBA Champion was and argues “Sure the Spurs won in ‘03, but Denver actually had the hardest schedule.” I’m just striving for some perspective.

But back to tonight: The Sixers are trying to forget a big loss to Golden State, notch their 12th win, and give the Wizards their 10th loss. On the surface, Washington missing John Wall is a good thing. In the opener, Wall scored 28 points. He did, however, take 28 shots to do so, and now those shots are going to be spread out to people like Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr., who caught fire in the teams’ last matchup. The Wizards, without Wall, aren’t slouches, and depending on the gametime status of Ben Simmons (and Joel Embiid, with a back-to-back pending), the Sixers might need another big game out of T.J. McConnell, but he’s usually good for those.

7:00 PM / Wells Fargo Center / NBC Sports Philadelphia

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