Finally, the NBA schedule has been released and now it’s time to circle all of the marquee games for the 2017-18 season. Before the release yesterday, the Sixers already knew of two games on their schedule: opening night at Washington on ESPN and Christmas Day in Madison Square Garden, also on ESPN.
What to make of the other 80 games?
Back to backs
The Sixers still have yet to hedge one way or the other on restricting Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons for back to backs. The NBA scaled back on the amount of such games this season. The Sixers will play 14 sets of back to backs, down from 17 last year. Good news for Embiid & Co.
Ten of the first 14 games games are on the road for the Sixers, which includes their first of its two trips out west. They’ll play Utah, Sacramento, Golden State, and both the Clippers and Lakers. A tall task for a young core. However, the Sixers will be done both west coast trips before the new year. Last year, the Sixers went out went in mid-March.
Including the west coast trips, the Sixers will play a total of four road trips consisting of four or more games. The second trip, which begins east and finishes west, has the Sixers going to Toronto, New York (Christmas), Portland, Denver, and Phoenix.
The third road trip, which is the toughest by far, comes in late January that features: San Antonio, OKC, Milwaukee, and Brooklyn.
The fourth trip in early March consists of: Milwaukee, Charlotte, Miami, Brooklyn.
The Sixers will have two home-stands that span five games or more. One comes in late-November when Golden State, Utah, Portland, Orlando, Cleveland, and Washington come to town.
The second home-stand is in early February with Washington, New Orleans, LAC, New York, and Miami coming to the Wells Fargo Center.
As I stated in my schedule preview, the March/April opponents will matter. The final 23 games of the regular season, the Sixers will play an above .500 team from a year ago 7 times. That number is inflated in itself, because three matchups include Indiana and Atlanta, both of whom are expected to take massive steps back this season with the losses of Paul George and Paul Millsap, respectively.
The Sixers open up with 10 of 14 road games… they’ll close the year — with hopes of a playoff berth on the horizon — 10 of 15 at home.
The NBA has trusted the process, and put the Sixers on 14 national televised games this season (only ESPN and TNT), which is eleventh most in the league and a far cry from where this franchise was two years ago. The Sixers will play Lonzo Ball’s Lakers twice on national TV, both OKC meetings, and TNT game in Cleveland on March 1 to name a few.
The most important takeaway from the schedule: the Sixers have an easy home schedule in March and April. It couldn’t have been set up any better for this young team. Even if the squad takes their lumps early on the road, they’ll have plenty of time to right to the ship for the stretch run. Fighting for a playoff berth and listening to “Trust the Process” chants at a sold-out Wells Fargo Center in March and April, and hopefully beyond, is what the Sixers will sign up for every day of the week.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports