After a hot start and an eight-game winning streak had visions of leading the Eastern Conference dancing in Sixers fans heads, Philadelphia has come back down to Earth a bit of late. The Sixers have lost four of their past six to currently sit at 12-7, tied for fourth place in the conference as of this writing.
I’m here to tell you that this is no time for the holiday blues, however. Things should be looking up for the Sixers for a couple reasons, the first of which is rest. Not making the In-Season tournament was disappointing for some of us Sixers fans, but falling in the group stage does have some fringe benefits. Philadelphia will only have two games across a nine-game stretch on the calendar, one a home game and the other a quick train ride to the nation’s capital. That’s a more comfortable setup than potentially having to travel for a road quarterfinals game and then fly cross-country for a Final Four environment in Vegas.
The Sixers could certainly use the rest after a hectic first quarter of the regular season schedule and they should be getting healthy soon. Kelly Oubre Jr. looks set to return this week from his rib injury. Stars Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey recently missed time due to illness; these days off right now should afford them additional time to lay down and spoon home some chicken noodle soup (bringing some home from Famous 4th Street Deli would be a great option). A number of guys on the roster have missed time with various minor injuries, including Nic Batum, Danuel House Jr., and Jaden Springer. They can all heal up back to full strength.
In addition to rest, the Sixers’ schedule also gets a whole lot easier from here on out. If you scroll way down on the below tweet, you’ll see the Sixers have the least difficult remaining schedule in the entire NBA.
Remaining Schedule Difficulty (1=hardest)— NBA University (@NBA_University) December 2, 2023
Tankathon confirms that 30th spot with a .473 winning percentage for remaining Sixers opponents. I mentioned those In-Season Tournament silver linings earlier, and having the two replacement games assigned to the Sixers being away at Washington and home at Atlanta is about as fortunate a situation as you could have drawn up. Meanwhile, the Knicks now have to play Milwaukee five times this season.
The easy remaining schedule also speaks to how tough the opening stretch of the season was for Philadelphia. They played Boston three times already! I know there aren’t moral victories (especially when it comes to the Celtics), but the Sixers were in all three of those games, even with Embiid and Maxey both out for the last one. Contests against Milwaukee, Phoenix, Minnesota and Oklahoma City have also already been scratched off the slate. Now, take a peek at the Sixers’ next seven opponents:
That stretch has 6-1 written all over it and suddenly we’re looking at close to a .700 winning percentage on the season.
I don’t know where you’re currently at in regard to the Sixers. Maybe everything is house money because you were expecting the worst coming into the season. Maybe James Harden Clippers highlights continue to put a smile on your face. Whatever your current mood, though, expect it to improve in the near future.