After a short but incredibly wild offseason, the Sixers have a new head of the front office, a new head coach, and one fewer albatross contract on the books. With a revamped roster designed to better complement Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers will look to elevate themselves back to contender status in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia should certainly have their hands full in that department; in addition to the teams above them last year, the healthy version of the star-studded Brooklyn Nets looked like world-beaters last night in their season opener.
As for tonight, however, the Sixers will be up against an opponent a little further down in the standings, but let’s not think this game will be a cakewalk. Bradley Beal is coming off a career year where he averaged 30.5 points per game and the Sixers never exactly cover themselves in glory in stopping opposing star guards. You might also recall Davis Bertans draining seven 3s in a Wizards win last December, so keep an eye on the Latvian Laser.
Of course, the main shake-up for the Wizards this offseason was the trade shipping John Wall to Houston in exchange for Russell Westbrook. While Russ is a divisive figure in basketball circles, he did cut out some of his ineffective outside shots last season to shoot a career-best 47.2 percent from the field on his way to 27.2 points per game. Considering Wall wasn’t even available to take the court last season, Washington’s roster has undoubtedly improved from 2019-20. However, from Sixers fans’ perspective, the most important aspect of the trade is how it adds additional chapters to the Embiid-Westbrook feud.
Did Joel Embiid just murder Russell Westbrook? pic.twitter.com/aQGfZt9LVi— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 28, 2018
Regardless of the opponent, there is plenty to watch for from the hometown Sixers. Embiid is coming off an illness; he said yesterday he felt well and would expect to be running the floor like he did in the preseason opener against Boston. Can Ben Simmons block out all the trade rumors to build upon last season’s All-Star and All-Defensive First Team campaign? Tyrese Maxey is making his professional debut, as Doc Rivers confirmed he would be getting minutes. Then, there are the new vets making their Sixers debuts; Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard all had bright moments across the two preseason games.
One thing is for certain: depending on how tonight goes, Sixers fans will either be planning a socially-distanced parade down Broad Street or saying James Harden needs to be on the first plane to Philadelphia. 88-0 is still on the table. Let’s go!
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards
When: 7:00pm ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Injuries: Washington: Rui Hachimura - out (bilateral eye conjunctivitis)
Philadelphia: None (it’s definitely the start of a new era)