The full 2019-20 NBA schedule has officially been released, and that means we know the full slate of Sixers games for the upcoming season. Luckily for you all, I am here to break down all of this information so you don't have to.
Before we get into this, a quick note: the schedule can be very interesting, but is is not exactly telling or predictive in any way. For the most part, each team has the same schedule as the rest of their conference members, save for a few negligible differences. If you read through the entire 82 games and it seems like a much easier or harder slate than you would have guessed, don’t overreact. Unlike in football or even baseball, the schedule is very rarely a difference-maker in terms of yearly outcomes for a basketball team. There are certain aspects one can take away from the schedule (I’ll be doing this now!), but other than that, it is truly just about finding out when certain anticipated matchups will be taking place (I’ll also be doing this now!).
Here we go...
Things That Might Actually Matter
This section will essentially be the team's schedule deviancies — aspects of the schedule that vary from team to team.
- Less frequent Eastern Conference opponents
There is very little variety in opponents for every team within a conference. Each one plays two games against every team in the other conference. But within the conference, there is a bit of diversity.
Each year, there are four opponents within a team's conference that they only play against three times in the year instead of four. It goes without saying that teams hope these four less frequent opponents are undesirable opponents. Last year, the Sixers had a decent draw — they were spared a matchup with the league-best Milwaukee Bucks, a major plus. But the other three teams they faced less than the others — Orlando, Washington and Cleveland, were nothing special.
This year, the Sixers will see the following teams once less than usual: the Detroit Pistons (congratulations, Andre Drummond), Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls, and Charlotte Hornets. This is close to as poor of a draw in this regard as possible, unfortunately. But don’t overreact. Once again, this stuff only holds so much value!
One could argue that the amount of back-to-backs on the schedule matters more to the Sixers than any other team given the expected load management that Joel Embiid will be receiving. It also is not out of the question that Al Horford will see a notable amount of nights off as well.
So, take this for what it’s worth (which, truth be told, is not much): this season’s total is... 13 sets of back-to-backs.
Last season, the Sixers played... 13 sets of back-to-backs, about league average. Almost every team played 13 or 14, with small handfuls of teams having 12 or 15.
The Fun Stuff
Now, we get to the more exciting part: the highly-anticipated matchups, looming returns, and much more.
Landmark Dates: Given their status as a legitimate championship contender, the Sixers are slated to be front and center for quite a few of the NBA’s landmark dates:
- For the first time since Joel Embiid’s played in his first NBA game, the Sixers will open the season on their home floor, as they face off with the Boston Celtics on October 23rd on ESPN.
- It’s been over 30 years since the Sixers hosted a game on Christmas Day. That changes this year, as they welcome Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to Philadelphia.
- On New Year’s Eve, the Sixers face the Indiana Pacers on the road in an afternoon game.
- On Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 20th), the Sixers will square off with Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets in Brooklyn.
Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat: The Sixers will see Jimmy Butler four times this season, all early on in the year.
- November 23rd in Philadelphia
- December 18th in Philadelphia
- December 28th in Miami
- February 3rd in Miami
Chances for revenge against Kawhi Leonard: While the Sixers were eliminated in Toronto, it was really Kawhi Leonard who knocked them out. They will get the opportunity to avenge the heart-breaking loss on February 11th at the Wells Fargo Center before facing the Clippers in LA on March 1st.
All of the Celtics games: The Celtics may not be contenders anymore, but let’s face it: we will never stop caring a little bit more than we should about those games. Here are the four matchups between the long-time rivals.
- October 23rd in Philadelphia
- December 12th in Boston
- January 9th in Philadelphia
- February 1st in Boston
The Lakers: The Sixers will host LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the new-look Lakers on January 25th. They will face the Lakers out west on March 3rd.
Other returns: The most notable return to Philadelphia will be Jimmy Butler’s. But here are some other returns of former Sixers:
- Robert Covington’s Minnesota Timberwolves come to the Wells Fargo Center on October 30th.
- JJ Redick and the exciting New Orleans Pelicans come to town on December 13th.
- TJ McConnell comes back to Philadelphia as a member of the Indiana Pacers on November 30th.
- The Homie Dario Saric and his new team, the Phoenix Suns, are in Philadelphia on March 27th.
More of the Bucks: Given the standing of the two teams within the Eastern Conference’s hierarchy, there is a good argument to be made that the four Sixers-Bucks games are the most important ones of the season for both teams. The two teams will face off on the following dates:
- December 25th in Philadelphia
- February 6th in Milwaukee
- February 22nd in Milwaukee
- April 7th in Philadelphia
National TV: The Sixers will be heavily featured on national television this year. They play nine games on ESPN, eight on TNT and five on ABC.
That should be everything you need to know about the Sixers’ 2019-20 schedule. Which games are you looking forward to watching the most?
For the full schedule, click here.