76ers

2019-20 Sixers schedule: Plenty of reunions await Sixers this season

2019-20 Sixers schedule: Plenty of reunions await Sixers this season

The NBA schedule is out and it’s ripe with juicy matchups all around the league.

There will be plenty of intriguing games for the Sixers, including their matchups with rival Boston and both L.A. teams, but there are also a few games that will have some sentimentality.

Here are the Sixers’ “reunion” games for the 2019-20 season. (All times listed below are local start times.) 

Jimmy Butler — Sixers vs. Heat, Nov. 23, 7:30 p.m.

This may be the one return that’s not so ceremonious. There have been conflicting reports about whether the Sixers offered Butler a max deal. In any case, it appears Butler chose South Beach over South Philly. The crowd reaction alone will be fascinating. It’s unlikely either side will offer up much in the pre- and postgame availabilities, but you never know. It’ll also be Josh Richardson’s first chance to “kill” his former team.

T.J. McConnell — Sixers vs. Pacers, Nov. 30, 7 p.m.

This may actually get the fan base more excited than any return. McConnell was the ultimate underdog, joining the team as an undrafted free agent and earning an unlikely roster spot every season. The team and McConnell chose to go in different directions as the Sixers brought in veterans Raul Neto and Trey Burke to handle backup point guard duties.

JJ Redick — Sixers vs. Pelicans, Dec. 13, 7 p.m.

Redick had arguably the best two seasons of his NBA career with the Sixers. The two-man game with Joel Embiid and Redick was lethal. In a way, the Sixers signing Redick was similar to when the Phillies signed Jim Thome. Redick wasn’t the caliber player Thome was, but it symbolized Philadelphia being a destination again. It will also be our first peek at No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Boban Marjanovic — Sixers vs. Mavericks, Dec. 20, 8 p.m.

The Tobi and Bobi Show gets another day in the sun. Marjanovic became a fan favorite pretty much immediately in Philadelphia when he arrived in a trade with his best friend, Tobias Harris. The massive Serbian got a standing ovation the first time he checked into a game at the Wells Fargo Center as a Sixer. I imagine the reception will be quite warm this time around as well.

Robert Covington — Sixers vs. Timberwolves, Oct. 30, 7 p.m.

Covington was traded last November, but missed both matchups against his former team last season. RoCo was one of the more underappreciated players the Sixers have had because his shooting ran so hot and cold. He should be warmly received this time around. The Butler trade didn’t work out exactly how the team would’ve liked, but it did ultimately net the Sixers Richardson.

Dario Saric — Sixers vs. Suns, March 27, 7 p.m.

Well, at least Saric got himself into warmer weather. He’ll also be reunited with former Sixers assistant Monty Williams, who took over as head coach in Phoenix. Those are really the only positives about Saric landing with the Suns. Always a fan favorite, Saric will be coming over to Philadelphia to a rousing ovation.

Markelle Fultz — Sixers vs. Magic, April 5, 1 p.m.

This one might be intriguing. Do we believe the hype around the latest Markelle Fultz shooting videos or do we think it’s the same story as last offseason? Fultz was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason, but obviously has yet to live up to anywhere near that lofty status. The crowd reaction could get ugly — especially if Fultz rediscovers his jumper and plays well.

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

Bruno Fernando — Sixers at Hawks, Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m.

Sure, there will be intrigue with Al Horford taking on his former teams, but let's face it: We all love to second guess every move ever. These games fall into the “what could’ve been” category. Edwards and Fernando were both acquired with picks originally held by the Sixers. General manager Elton Brand valued the roster spot/cap space more than drafting either player. It’s fair to note that Brand later re-signed Furkan Korkmaz to a deal. Would he have been better off selecting one of these two players? We’ll see.

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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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