Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley has a bold prediction for the Sixers this season

Charles Barkley has a bold prediction for the Sixers this season

The Sixers' schedule came out Monday and it’s clear the NBA is showing the team a lot of respect.

The Sixers are going to be heavily featured on national TV throughout the season and have a marquee matchup on Christmas Day with the Bucks.

But there may not be anyone showing the team as much respect as former Sixers great Charles Barkley.

As a guest on NBA TV’s schedule release show, the always bold Sir Charles wasn’t shy about the expectations he has for his former team.

I’m going out on a limb right now, I’m riding and dying with the Philadelphia 76ers. I know it’s going to be a great battle between them and the Milwaukee Bucks all year. But I love Philadelphia. I love Al Horford, Josh Richardson. Milwaukee losing [Malcolm] Brogdon, I think that’s a big deal. But I think it’s a two-team race in the Eastern Conference between the 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. I can’t wait until they play each other head to head.

When pressed for a guarantee, Barkley didn’t hesitate.

I guarantee you the Philadelphia 76ers are going to win the Eastern Conference.

You could construe this as a former player building up his former team, but Barkley hasn’t been afraid to be critical of the Sixers in the past. He’s also pretty spot on in assessing the East. The Sixers and Bucks look poised to be the top teams.

Now that the schedule is out, we know the teams will square off in Philly on Christmas Day and April 20, and in Milwaukee on Feb. 6 and 22.

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Charles Barkley blasts Sixers' Joel Embiid for showing 'weakness'

Charles Barkley blasts Sixers' Joel Embiid for showing 'weakness'

Joel Embiid did not have his finest evening Tuesday night in Toronto.

Dealing with an upper-respiratory infection, Embiid was listed as probable by the Sixers before the game. He had 13 points and six rebounds and was a minus-15 in the Sixers' 125-89 Game 5 loss to the Raptors (see observations). His eight turnovers tied a season high.

Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said at halftime on TNT that he wasn't a fan of how Embiid was carrying himself.

He’s walking by himself like he’s on his death bed. As a star player, you can never show weakness. You’ve got to keep the other guys involved in the game. That’s what he does. He complains so much about being sick, he drains the energy out of the room.

The timing of Embiid's health woes is certainly unfortunate for the Sixers. For what it's worth, Embiid did say after the Sixers' loss in Game 4 that he was "100 percent," and that he didn't want to use his illness as an excuse.

For Barkley, those words aren't good enough.

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Charles Barkley sure had a lot to say about the Sixers

Charles Barkley sure had a lot to say about the Sixers

Charles Barkley sure had a lot to say about the Sixers in the last 24 hours.

With the team on national television against the Pacers Thursday, Barkley had some poignant comments about the team’s usage of Joel Embiid. Embiid was questionable prior to the game with back tightness, but played through it despite looking visibly uncomfortable. 

During TNT’s halftime show, Barkley went in on the Sixers for allowing Embiid to play:

Let me just say this about the Philadelphia 76ers: they’ve got to be the stupidest organization in the history of sports. You’ve got a franchise player who’s got a bad back, who’s injury-prone. He can barely walk and you’ve got him out there playing in a regular-season game. You have to be the stupidest organization.

(h/t Deadspin)

Then, less than 24 hours later as a guest on the Mike Missanelli Show, Barkley had some high praise for “the stupidest organization in the history of sports,” saying that he’d “take my chances right now with the 76ers winning the Eastern Conference.”

You can understand Barkley’s perspective considering Embiid’s injury history and his effusive praise for the Sixers’ big man.

For what it’s worth, Embiid downplayed the injury postgame, saying it’s something he’s gone through before and that he knew how to handle it. He also looked much better in the second half Thursday as he began to loosen up, helping lead the Sixers to arguably their best win of the season.

As for the Sixers' standing in the East, the team does appear to be clicking as it embarks on a brutal stretch of the schedule.

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