All of the particulars are falling into place for the Sixers’ 2018-19 season.
Their full preseason schedule was officially released Thursday. The team will open at the Wells Fargo Center on Sept. 28 against Australian professional team Melbourne United of the NBL, before a date with the Orlando Magic on Oct. 1. Then the Sixers will travel more than 7,400 miles for two games against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 5 and Oct. 8 as part of the NBA China Games to close out exhibition play.
“We pride ourselves on the unique, international culture we have created here in Philadelphia. It is something that we pay close attention to and it resonates throughout our roster, front office and staff,” head coach and interim general manager Brett Brown said when the Sixers’ participation in the China Games was announced in April. “We are excited to bring our team to China in the fall and connect with the truly great fans of a basketball-rich country.”
“Getting a chance to play all over the world has always been a dream of mine and I’m excited to play in China in October,” Ben Simmons said. “I know the fans there are passionate about basketball and I’m really looking forward to the trip to Shanghai and Shenzhen.”
That initial reaction was to be expected by the Sixers. Two games in China will provide the franchise with a great cultural experience and a massive boost in exposure.
The journey will also come at a cost, mainly in the form of rest. Between the games, practices, meet-and-greets, photo ops and more, there will be minimal time for members of the organization to get a break with the real deal getting started a little over one week later on Oct. 16 in Boston.
Just ask last season’s participants.
“It’s a huge problem,” Golden State’s Draymond Green told reporters last year, per USA Today, about the potential risks on the trip as the Warriors played two games against the Minnesota Timberwolves in China. “You kind of take training camp and break it up. It’s not the norm, so I think it’s a humongous problem.
“You start to risk injury and all of those things, so we have a pretty professional team. Guys get their work in, but it’s still nothing like actual practicing and that tempo. It’s more a risk of injury than the season. We’ll figure it out over the season.”
That sentiment wasn’t limited to the players.
“It’s a great trip, a great experience, but this is not the way to prepare for the season,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “But that’s alright. We’ll have about a week when we get back (before opening against Houston on Oct. 17), and I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Of course, the Warriors were indeed fine as they won their third championship in four years. But their 2017-18 season didn’t start without a couple of hiccups. After the trip overseas, Golden State returned to the United States and opened the campaign by dropping two of their first three regular-season games.
The Timberwolves stumbled a bit out of the gate as well with three losses in their first five games.
“That’s kind of getting the jet lag out of your body, to really get to move,” T-Wolves All-Star Jimmy Butler said, via Zone Coverage, of the squad’s plan to refresh after the long-distance trip. “We weren’t going very fast at all. It was all about moving around, sweating a little bit and waking the body up.”
With four of their first eight regular-season games on the road, including a pair of back-to-back sets, the Sixers will have to wake up quickly following their excursion to China.