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Liberty Ballers roundtable: Talking Sixers’ Schedule Part 1

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Which games should we have circled on the calendar?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

What are your 3 most anticipated games of the season and why?

Adio Royster:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - It sets the tone early in the season as to where this contest will be since it’s the growing consensus pick for the Eastern Conference Finals. Both teams will be at almost full strength (Sixers minus Zhaire Smith), but it’s still a good litmus test.
  • November 16, 2018 - Jazz at Sixers - It’s the first meetup between Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and Petty Rookie of the Year Donovan Mitchell.
  • January 19, 2019 - Thunder at Sixers - I’m only here for the Embiid/Westbrook beef. This is a thing that exists, and I am all for it. After dunking Westbrook to the sunken place last year in Oklahoma City, we have to see how this evolves from there.

Sean Kennedy:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - The start of a new season, the first shot at redemption against Boston following last spring’s playoff loss, and the initial (regular season) look at the revamped Markelle Fultz. Enough said.
  • October 30, 2018 - Sixers at Raptors - An up-close-and-personal look at Kawhi Leonard in his new threads north of the border. I’m highly interested in how healthy next summer’s unrestricted free agent seems after sitting out most of last season with his hamstring injury.
  • February 10, 2019 - Lakers at Sixers - King James comes to Philadelphia for the first time in a Lakers uniform. I’m sure Sixers fans in attendance won’t be the least bit upset he strung them along, dropping hints all year about his potentially joining the Sixers.

Tyler Monahan:

  • November 19, 2018 - Suns at Sixers - I simply want to see Embiid dunk on Ayton, plus the home return for Mikal Bridges is great.
  • Christmas Day vs. the Celtics - Two of the best in the East battle it out on one of the biggest days of the basketball season, pretty awesome.
  • January 19, 2019 - Thunder at Sixers - Westbrook rivalry is reignited in Philly.

Adam Aaronson:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - The game I’m most excited for has to be the opening night affair against the Celtics in Boston. I’m not sure I feel any sort of confidence that they’ll win the game, but seeing the Sixers play in the league’s very first game of the year should be enjoyable.
  • October 30, 2018 - Sixers at Raptors - It’ll the Sixers’ first battle with the Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors. The Raptors were an excellent team last year who just added one of the very best players in the league. It should be very interesting to see how the Sixers respond to that challenge early on in the year.
  • January 21, 2019 - Rockets at Sixers - The Sixers have never played the Rockets with both Chris Paul and James Harden, so this should be an intriguing matchup.

Greg Melo:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - Basketball is back. The Sixers kick it off against a hated rival. And Drew Hanlen’s work is unveiled to the world.
  • October 30, 2018 - Sixers at Raptors - It’ll be the first look at the Lowry-Leonard led Raptors. I don’t think the media has given enough of a look at this as a potential Eastern Conference Semifinals or Eastern Conference Finals matchup.
  • December 27, 2018 - Sixers at Jazz - I’ve been itching to see Jazz fans’ reactions to the reigning ROY returning to Salt Lake. And I love me some Donovan Mitchell. Gobert vs Embiid is another fun storyline.

Caleb Turrentine:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - It is Sixers-Celtics. It is TNT. And really it is just the return of basketball.
  • February 10, 2019 - Lakers at Sixers - I’m not too petty about LeBron’s decision to go to L.A. but I also want the team and Wells Fargo Center to be at their best to show Bron what he missed out on.
  • March 2, 2019 - Warriors at Philadelphia - It may not mean anything but everyone knows it will be a preview of the 2019 NBA Finals so let’s enjoy it, along with whatever ridiculous song ABC comes up with for Saturday night primetime this season.

Roy Burton:

  • October 30, 2018 - Sixers at Raptors - Facing one of the East’s best teams on the road on the second leg of a back-to-back is a heck of an early season test - I’m curious to see how they respond.
  • Christmas Day vs. the Celtics - I’m not sure if I really need to explain this one.
  • February 10, 2019 - Lakers at Sixers - Bron and the Crew come to The Center for a Sunday afternoon ABC game - the building is going to be HOT...

Tom West:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - An obvious choice. After the way last season ended, with the Celtics taking control against the Sixers in the playoffs, this is a chance to start the season strong and make an early statement against a growing conference rival. Plus, we get an initial look at Fultz after a few months of training with Drew Hanlen.
  • January 29, 2019 - Sixers at Lakers - LeBron plus a very weird Lakers roster is something I can’t wait for in general. Seeing the Sixers face them, especially if Embiid decides to give us another remarkable performance in Staples, should make for a fun night.
  • January 31, 2019 - Sixers at Warriors - I’m going for the very next game. It’s the Sixers’ first shot of the season at the league’s best team, this time with DeMarcus Cousins in the mix (if he’s recovered from his Achilles injury). Plus, Zhaire Smith should have returned from injury with some time to readjust at this point.

Kevin Rice:

  • November 19, 2018 - Suns at Sixers - First matchup of Embiid vs. Ayton and Mikal Bridges’ return to Philadelphia, and the junkyard dog’s (Richaun!!!) return to Philadelphia. Sixers should cruise for the win and there will be fireworks upon fireworks with Embiid vs. Ayton and the “will the Nova fans cheer on Mikal?” (they will) and “should they be allowed to?” (well, yeah).
  • January 19, 2019 - Thunder at Sixers - The Embiid vs. Russ feud (seeing a theme here?) rekindles and MUCH more importantly, it’s TLC’s return!!!!! And if the Process Sixers trio of Nerlens, Jerami, and Timothe all check in at once, my heart may burst.
  • February 10, 2019 - Lakers at Sixers - Exactly one week after the Eagles win SB LIII, LeBron will make his way to Philly for a Sunday ABC matchup against the Sixers. The amped up, euphoric fans of Philly will be unleashed an explode like Krakatoa.

Hannah Ridden:

  • Opening night vs. the Celtics - There’s obvious energy in the air when these two teams face each other and I think it’s going to be fun, but also important to see how Markelle Fultz is shooting and how the new dynamic of the Sixers will handle the Celtics. We can’t forget they’ll have Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving returning.
  • In general, I’m excited to see how the Sixers look right out of the gate. They should be able to get off to a good start because 13 of the first 20 games are against opponents that didn’t make the playoffs this past season (per NBC). I think it’s going to be important for the Sixers to start off strong and use that momentum as they face tougher opponents.

What are your 3 most important games of the season and why?

AR:

  • Opening night vs. Boston Celtics - Self explanatory. It’s opening night, and it’s the Celtics. This rivalry is allegedly back, so the first meeting is super important.
  • November 7, 2018 - Sixers at Pacers - For all the talk about Boston, Toronto, and Milwaukee, I feel like Indiana is being allowed to stay under the radar. I’m as concerned about the Pacers as those other teams because they were unexpectedly good last year and added Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn. Indiana might be a threat, so establishing the pecking order early is necessary.
  • March 20, 2019 - Celtics at Sixers - This is the last Sixers/Celtics meeting before the playoffs start, so it’ll be important to see how each team has evolved and prepared throughout the season.

SK:

  • at Celtics - Dec. 25 - One of the marquee days on the NBA calendar, toppling the presumed Eastern Conference favorite in front of the eyes of the nation on Christmas Day would continue the Sixers’ progression as a potential top free-agent destination.
  • vs. Warriors - Mar. 2 - This is the Sixers’ only shot at the two-time defending champions on their home court. A win over Steph Curry and company would be a tremendous boost of confidence heading into the home stretch of the season. It’s always good to know you can take down anyone on a given night.
  • vs. Bucks - Apr. 4 - The penultimate home game of the regular season and one that could have a lot of implications as far as playoff positioning. A similar situation last year saw the Sixers blow out Milwaukee by 35, with Markelle Fultz dropping a triple-double.

TM:

  • Christmas day against the Celtics. The Sixers have a chance on one of the biggest stages to prove they can hang with the Celtics.
  • January 31, on the road against the Warriors. Again, on a national stage, the Sixers have the opportunity to try and keep up with possibly the greatest team ever assembled.
  • Home opener against the Bulls, simply because it’s a chance to start the season on the right (non-Jones fractured) foot.

AA:

  • The Sixers’ most important games will hopefully be the ones against the Celtics and Raptors. If all goes well, the Sixers could be fighting for seeding with those two teams. If we don’t count those games, I’ll say the most important matchups are January 31 in Oakland against the Warriors in a game where the Sixers can establish themselves as a threat to the league’s very best; the November 16 battle in Philly between Self-Proclaimed Rookie of the Year Donovan Mitchell’s Utah Jazz and Actual Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons’ Sixers; and an early-season primetime game in Milwaukee against the Bucks on October 24.

GM:

  • Utah on November 16. Aside from their first bouts with Toronto and Boston, this will be the first big test for the Sixers against a top-flight team. The Jazz are balanced and have good depth. Zhaire Smith’s injury may be a factor here.
  • San Antonio on December 17. Okay, so this is a funky little spot. A second night of a back-to-back, the Spurs will always play tough, and there’s an underdog mentality here with some writing them off after the Leonard trade. If Philly loses here, they have a tough six-game slate (outside of the Knicks) to close out the calendar year.
  • Gonna hedge here and say OKC/HOU on January 19 and 21. It will be the first time the 76ers play either team this season. They will need to prove they can show up against the West’s upper echelon of teams.

CT:

  • We’ll start with October 30 in Toronto. I believe the Sixers are above the Raptors right now but they have a chance early in the season to prove that and set the tone for the division and the conference.
  • The Sixers will need to win on November 25 in Brooklyn. That seems random but as some of you know, because of the lottery party, my brother lives in Brooklyn and part of his prize for the wedding was tickets to the games in Brooklyn. Can you imagine having to watch your team lose to the Nets? This one is important.
  • The matchup with Boston on March 20 reminds me of the Cavs game last season. It could be one of the last meaningful games of the regular season and a chance to push the seedings in one direction.

RB:

  • The season opener against the Celtics is an important measuring stick. It’ll definitely set the tone for the first stretch of the season.
  • On a similar note, the final game against the Celtics (March 20) is a late-season, Wednesday night ESPN showdown that should be vital in terms of playoff positioning.
  • Finally, the road game against the Pacers on January 17 is a tough one. If the Sixers drop that, it could be the start of a three/four-game losing streak with the Thunder, Rockets and Spurs coming into town right after that.

TW:

  • Christmas day in Boston - Everyone will be watching on one of the marquee days of the season. It’s an even bigger chance for the Sixers to make a statement at a time in the season when both teams should be coming into form.
  • February 5 vs. Toronto - This game comes during one of the Sixers’ toughest stretches of the season, letting them battle a team that’ll likely rank top five at both ends of the floor again. Oh, and they’ll have had plenty of time to integrate Kawhi, too. This is a valuable chance for the Sixers to prove what they can do and feel out potentially the best team they could face in the playoffs.
  • April 4 vs. Milwaukee - The Bucks could be much better with Mike Budenholzer on the sidelines and Giannis a year older. The Sixers’ end-of-season run is fairly easy, so this is a tougher opportunity to pick up a key win as playoff seeds fall into place.

KR:

  • Opening Night at the Celtics - Please, please, please, please, please just win the opening game of the 2018-19 season so the 4-1, Fultz can’t shoot, Sixers overhyped jokes can go to rest for a bit.
  • October 30 at the Raptors - As of right now, the Celtics have an edge. That might change if the Raptors impress early.
  • Christmas Day at the Celtics - I’m allllllll about the holiday season and I will not stand to have it RUINED.

HR:

  • I think one of the most important games this season is going to be October 20 when the Sixers face the Raptors for the first time this year. It’ll be telling how the Sixers perform against Kawhi Leonard and the newly shaped team.
  • Another important game will be against the Celtics on Christmas Day. The game will have a ton of national attention and it will be important for the Sixers to show they can stand up to the Celtics under pressure during the regular season.

If you live in the Philadelphia area, give me 3 games you’re trying to make it out to and why.

AR:

  • November 19, 2018 - Suns at Sixers - Rookie Deandre Ayton has been talking a lot with regards to Joel Embiid, so I want to be there to see how badly he gets embarrassed.
  • January 5, 2019 - Mavericks at Sixers - There are two reasons. First, I want to see how good Luka Dončić is in person. Second, I have to see Dirk Nowitzki one last time before he hangs up the kicks.
  • January 19, 2019 - Thunder at Sixers - I want to go for the reason I stated previously (the Embiid-Russ feud, in case you forgot).

TM: Since I don’t live close to Philly during the school year, I would love to try and see the Sixers play the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, given the fact I go to school just outside of New York City. Besides that, the January 8 home game against the Wizards would be a good one to see over winter break.

AA: I’ll definitely be trying to get to the home opener against Chicago — the first home game of the year is always a fun experience, and the Bulls feel like a great matchup for the Sixers. It would definitely be cool to see LeBron as a Laker in person when they come to town on February 10. I’m also eager to see the first Celtics at Sixers game on February 12 so I can (boo Jayson Tatum) watch a historic rivalry continue to blossom.

GM: I’ll be living in Chicago for the school year, so I’d like to catch one of the 76ers’ away games at the United Center. The Knicks game before Christmas would be a blast to see around the holidays. TJ McConnell always balls out against New York and I’d love to be there for another bench triple-double. If I find a way back in February, The LAL home bout would be an enticing game to go to. Really interested to see Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, and LABron James playing off of each other.

CT: *Caleb did not have much to say on this matter and simply offered a “:(“ to signal his disappointment of not living in the Philadelphia area.*

RB: It’s not local, but I’m REALLY trying to go to that Sixers/Celtics Christmas Day game. These prices on Stubhub aren’t letting me be great, however. Also... I’m a basic dude, so the home opener vs. the Bulls is appealing, and the Thanksgiving Eve showdown against the Pelicans is a low-key underrated matchup.

TW: Someone buy me a plane ticket from London to Philly and I’ll let you know.

KR: Me and my roommates at Temple are season ticket holders so here’s three games you should buy from us for $20 above the average market price:

  • Saturday, March 2 vs the Warriors because, yeah, Warriors
  • Sunday, February 10 vs Lakers because, yeah, LeBron
  • Saturday, January 19 vs OKC because, yeah, Timothe

HR: I live in NYC now so it will be much easier for me to catch the Sixers when they play the Knicks on January 13 at Madison Square Garden, but I’m hoping to make it back to Philly when they play the Lakers. I’ve never seen LeBron play in person and that’s on my bucket list for sure.