Tonight the NBA released the schedules for the 22 teams headed to Orlando. Some teams will be fighting to make the playoff tournament, while teams like the Sixers will be playing more for things like seeding, chemistry, and shaking off the rust from mostly staying home since early March. At 39-26 the Sixers currently sit in the 6th seed. Their record is identical to Indiana’s, although the Pacers possess a tie breaker bumping them up to the 5th seed. Now seeding is not a very big deal here for the Sixers here. This season they were a great home team and a terrible road team but now those factors won’t matter in a neutral Disney venue. Moving up a seed or two won’t change who hosts the series but it will alter the path to the finals. This poses questions like would you rather face Boston then Toronto then Milwaukee or Miami then Milwaukee then the winner of a Boston Toronto matchup, assuming few upsets? Although let’s be honest, few things feel certain these days maybe we should bank on lots of upsets.
ESPN held a schedule release special to reveal the 8 game slate for each group. But Sixers lead beat reporter from The Philadelphia Inquirer Keith Pompey scooped the commercial-filled special. So without further ado, here is the Sixers schedule for the restart (and end) of the 2019-2020 regular season. Per Pompey:
Quick reaction, it’s soft:
Per Pompey, the Sixers have the second easiest schedule of the entire restart. Certainly games against the Spurs, Wizards, Magic, Blazers and Suns are winnable. Toronto and Houston possess better records than the Sixers so those figure to be more challenging. But again, things that felt likely or improbable before the hiatus may be different once things resume. It’ll be interesting to see how hard teams start playing since they’ll be concerned about stuff like soft-tissue injuries, or even acclimating to not having key players who’ve opted not to join. For example, one of the Sixers’ opponents, the Wizards, will be without sharp-shooting big Davis Bertans.
If I had to guess though, I’d think this schedule puts the Sixers on a tentative path to face their nemesis Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the first round. There’s probably a decent chance the Sixers can move up a spot or two in the seedings with this cupcake slate. If they win that, they’d likely face Milwaukee. That would be tough.
Also of interest to the Sixers will be the Thunder’s schedule. The Sixers currently possess a first round pick in the upcoming 2020 draft via OKC. So they’ll be rooting for the Thunder to keep up the stellar play they last exhibited back in March. The pick is protected 1-20 so it would be disheartening to see the Thunder go on a quick skid and retain their pick. Because then it becomes two future second rounders instead. Our Harrison Grimm already showed you how the Oklahoma City pick can make or break the Sixers’ offseason.
What do you think? Per Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on Twitter:
To be honest, I’ll be rooting for the Thunder harder than I’ll be rooting for Philadelphia these next 8 games. I wouldn’t mind dodging the Bucks until the Conference Finals. If I’m Head Coach Brett Brown I’m not going to tank but I would prioritize honing my playoff rotations and very slowly ramping my guys up for big minutes. And I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on the final scores over the next eight. Let us know what you think in the replies.