76ers

2019-20 Sixers schedule: 8 of the Sixers' best matchups

2019-20 Sixers schedule: 8 of the Sixers' best matchups

The Sixers (just like 29 other NBA teams) play 82 regular-season games in 2019-20 and, if we're being honest with ourselves, some of them will be more worth watching than others.

The team's full schedule is below. All times listed are local start times. 

Here are eight games that figure to be among the best:

Oct. 23: Sixers vs. Celtics, 7:30 p.m.

When these two teams played on opening night last year, Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Markelle Fultz combined for 19 points and 8 for 25 shooting in a 105-87 loss. The Sixers have replaced those three players with Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. Though the Sixers’ new starting five likely won’t gell immediately, another blowout loss would be a stunner. 

Nov. 25: Sixers at Raptors, 7:30 p.m.

Nobody associated with the Sixers needs a reminder of the bitter conclusion to last season. Kawhi Leonard, the man who made that painful, high-bouncing shot, has departed, but Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam haven’t gone anywhere. Unlike in May, the Sixers should have a healthy Joel Embiid, and a backup center who’s in a different class than the combination of Greg Monroe and Boban Marjanovic they tried to scrape by with in that second-round series. 

Dec. 25: Sixers vs. Bucks, 2:30 p.m. 

The Sixers’ first home Christmas game since 1988 should be a good one. It’s a matchup between what appear to be the two best teams in the Eastern Conference, two teams who lost to the Raptors in last year’s playoffs and don’t have to worry this season about Leonard’s playoff heroics — unless they meet the Clippers in the Finals. 

How will the Sixers handle defending Giannis Antetokounmpo? While the MVP averaged a staggering 48.5 points in the teams' final two matchups last season with Embiid as his primary defender, the Sixers won in Milwaukee on March 17 and led with less than two minutes left in an April 4 loss at Wells Fargo Center. Despite significant roster turnover for the Bucks, Antetokounmpo is still surrounded by shooters, including new additions Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver. 

Jan. 3: Sixers at Rockets, 7 p.m.

Embiid has some history with both James Harden and new Rocket Russell Westbrook. After Embiid and Harden each picked up double technical fouls for an incident on Jan. 22, the big man said, “I’m always having fun and a lot of guys take it seriously. Especially when it comes to that, we just had one guy our last game that was acting crazy.” That guy who was “acting crazy” happened to be Westbrook, who Embiid said is “always in his feelings” following the then-Thunder guard taking exception to a hard foul by Embiid. 

Jan. 20: Sixers at Nets, 3 p.m. 

Kevin Durant will be rehabbing from his ruptured Achilles tendon, but there are still plenty of compelling storylines for this Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. The Sixers ended the Nets’ 2018-19 season with a Game 5 win in Philadelphia that was over well before halftime. There won’t be any sparring, verbal or otherwise, between Jared Dudley (now a Laker) and Ben Simmons, but Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris and Caris LeVert are among the supporting cast still in Brooklyn. The star they’re now supporting, of course, is Kyrie Irving. 

Jan. 25: Sixers vs. Lakers, 8:30 p.m.

LeBron James; Anthony Davis; A colorful collection of role players that includes Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and JaVale McGee. Regardless of how you feel about them, the 2019-20 Lakers are going to be must-watch television. Embiid has a career 3-1 record against Davis and dominated the six-time All Star on Nov. 21, 2018, outscoring him 31-12 as the Sixers held on for a 121-120 win. 

Feb. 11: Sixers vs. Clippers, 7 p.m.

There’s been so much change around the league that it’s hard to confidently project much about next season, but it seems safe to say the Clippers and Sixers will be two of the NBA’s best defensive teams in 2019-20. In addition to another matchup vs. Leonard, this game should feature former Sixers Landry Shamet and Lou Williams, as well as a six-time All-Star who averaged 28 points per game and led the league in steals in 2018-19 in Paul George. 

March 7: Sixers at Warriors, 5:30 p.m.

The Warriors are still the Warriors. Sure, they no longer have Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson will be working his way back from a torn ACL. Stephen Curry, D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green still sound like a highly entertaining trio, though. Another note of interest for Philly basketball fans is that Golden State now has two Villanova products, rookie Eric Paschall and Omari Spellman. Simmons averaged 25.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists against Golden State last year, making 20 of 28 field goal attempts. 

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A sneak peek at the Sixers' 2019-20 City Edition jerseys

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A sneak peek at the Sixers' 2019-20 City Edition jerseys

It appears we got our first peek at the Sixers’ 2019-20 City Edition uniforms.

Though the uniform won’t officially come out until Wednesday morning, team president Chris Heck gave us a sneak peek Tuesday during the last night of the 76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition.

The design is similar to the 2017-18 version, but with “Philadelphia” written and the copper stripe down the side. The copper stripe appears to be an ode to the Liberty Bell. Before Heck entered the exhibit, he said the jerseys would “tell a story.”

Apparently, that story is America’s. We’ll likely get more info when the uniforms are officially released.

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Sixers' imperfect fit has led to growing pains offensively

Sixers' imperfect fit has led to growing pains offensively

CAMDEN, N.J. — Through 13 games, the Sixers’ offense has been far from a well-oiled machine.

There are plenty of factors contributing to that. Joel Embiid missing four games hasn’t helped. Ben Simmons missing two hasn’t either.

But the biggest factor — other than perhaps Simmons’ unwillingness to shoot — is time.

Brett Brown, who slyly remarked, “I have no idea what you're talking about” Tuesday on reports that he’s in talks to coach Team Australia in 2020, has often cited Christmas as a time when he expects things to start to come together. Though he was vocal about his disappointment with the team’s defense in their loss last Friday in Oklahoma City, Brown is feeling good about that end of the floor.

But offensively, with his team’s size, it can be an awkward fit. Al Horford is figuring out how to play with a center as dominant as Embiid. Josh Richardson is learning how to play next to a 6-foot-10 point guard that doesn’t shoot from the outside. And Tobias Harris is still figuring out exactly what his role is.

It’s up to Brown and the players to figure it out, but it won’t happen overnight.

“But at some point, when somebody claims that part of the floor, other people have to react to like, well, that real estate's bought,” Brown said. “That takes time. And forget the coach on the sideline saying it, I bet if you ask the players, they'll give you heartfelt -- I hope -- answers on the truth and this is my point: You don't just click your heels [and win], even with talent. 

“This is a different type of team. It's not like you got a traditional point guard, a bunch of shooters, you know Joel Embiid and a stretch four — it's not that. It ain't that at all. I like what I got. I like the people, I like the talent, but it's not a perfect fit that happens straightaway. And that's not an excuse. That's just the way I truly see it.”

Horford’s struggles while playing next to Embiid are evident. His best minutes as a Sixer have been when being used at the five with Embiid out. He’s also shooting just 31.6 percent from three after connecting on 38.2 percent of tries during three years in Boston.

Though he wasn’t as willing to give a timeframe for things to come together, he echoed his coach’s sentiments about the team’s offense — and defense.

“I think we're just a unique team,” Horford said. “We want to play a certain way and it's more in the paint, bully ball and scoring at will with that. We need to continue to find ways to be efficient scoring in the paint but also hitting shots. But I always go back to defense. The more comfortable that we feel defensively I think that'll take us out of a lot of jams and put us in good position.”

There’s little doubt this team was built more for April and May than it was for November. We’ve seen stretches of how good they can be defensively when all five guys are engaged and on the same page.

One area where they should certainly be better and that can help them when the games get tougher is getting to the line. They're 21st in the league in free throw attempts per game. With their size, this should be a team that lives at the line.

Why is there such a disparity on a nightly basis?

“It's a trick question. I don't want to lose no money so ain't going to say nothing,” Harris said. 

When the reporter clarified that it was not a trick question, Harris gave a layered response.

“Look, my whole career I've haven't been really able to get to the free throw line at a consistent rate that I would like to. I've watched film, done a lot of studying how to draw those files and whatnot. It's still a work in progress. I'm not a flopper so I think that kind of like hinders me sometimes a little bit. 

“I think we can find some more ways to kind of get to the free throw line a little bit more [as a team]. Maybe that's limiting some midrange jumpers and getting all the way downhill. Maybe being more physical. But we'll work at it.”

Like everything else with the 2019-20 Sixers, it’s a work in progress.

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