Despite a tougher start for the Sixers than most of us expected- with tough losses and even tougher injuries – there’s still a lot to look forward to this season. Between Tyrese Maxey putting up All-Star numbers this season, Joel Embiid continuing to assert his offensive dominance, and solid efforts from bench players like De’Anthony Melton and Paul Reed, the Wells Fargo Center is sure to be rocking every home game.
But not all games are created equal. Here are five home games to watch out for the remainder if this season:
1.) Saturday, November 12, vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Sixers might have had the best offseason in the league, but Atlanta is a close second. The massive addition of Dejounte Murray next to Trae Young presents a pair of young All-Star guards that is sure to put the Sixers’ defense to the test. Not to mention the additions of two Holidays – Aaron and Justin – who are certain to contribute offensively and defensively, respectively. This Hawks team is young, and athletic making for a fun (if slightly mismatched), fast-paced matchup with Philadelphia.
2.) Saturday, 11/19 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
There are three non-Sixers that I particularly enjoy seeing Embiid share the court with, and two of them are on this team (the third one comes later). The twin-tower combination of Karl Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert is a pretty fun experiment, and this matchup may be just around the time when they start to figure it out. Embiid, Towns, and Gobert have all been rivals with one another at different points in their career, but no doubt there’s a certain level of respect across the dominant big men who rarely can be held back. It’ll be interesting to see the lineup combos the Sixers put together for this game, and I’m particularly hoping for some Embiid-Paul Reed minutes to match their size and athleticism.
3.) Friday, December 23rd vs. LA Clippers
The Sixers haven’t beaten the Clippers since February 2020, even before the Shake Milton game that may or may not have been a factor in Doc’s decision to come to Philly. With both teams facing substantial injuries to one of their top players in James Harden and Kawhi Leonard, the first stretch of the season is certainly an uphill battle.
But perhaps by the end of the calendar year, both teams will be in a better position injury-wise to make for what is always a fun matchup. These two teams have vastly different strengths – with playmaking and quick explosive energy on the Sixers’ side, and ball-hawking and perimeter defense on the Clippers. Yet they aren’t as much of a size mismatch the way that some other teams, like the Raptors or the Bucks are. A tough battle for the Sixers as always, but one that – if they win – can inspire a new wave of hope in this team.
4.) Wednesday, February 15, 2023, vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Remember the three non-Sixers I particularly enjoy seeing Embiid share the court with? Jarrett Allen is the third. The 6’11” center is one of the few guys in the league who can go toe-to-toe with Embiid and put up solid defense without a double team.
While of course, that makes it more challenging for Embiid to do his job offensively, it does make for objectively good basketball. Plus, by mid-February, one would hope that the team is communicating well across lineups, and executing on a level that doesn’t involve running every play through Embiid in the post (looking at you, Doc Rivers). Add that to a revamped Cavs team featuring Donovan Mitchell and the fact that this game will take place right after the trade deadline? Count me in.
5.) Saturday, February 25, 2023 vs. Boston Celtics
Of course, I had to include a game with our Eastern Conference rivals on here. While the Sixers might have lost the season opener to the reigning conference champions, the team seems to be putting the pieces together – a trend that will hopefully continue into 2023. Again, this game will come after the trade deadline, when Daryl Morey is most likely to make any substantial moves. This game is sure to provide an early peek into the Eastern Conference playoff picture, and is a can’t-miss.
Bonus: Tuesday, November 22nd vs Brooklyn Nets. Because, of course. Someone bring your decibel meter to measure how loud the boos are!
AP Photo/Matt Slocum