NBA schedule

Atlanta Hawks exec wants to change when NBA season starts — but why?

Atlanta Hawks exec wants to change when NBA season starts — but why?

I think most fans would say the U.S. sports calendar has found a nice rhythm between each of the big four sports, that they all have their respective time of year.

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin has other thoughts.

Koonin, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston this week, proposed a new starting date for the NBA schedule: mid-December, rather than mid-October. The NBA Finals, then, would take place in August, rather than June.

Shifting the schedule for any of the big four is quite a proposal, and I don't really care for it.

Koonin explained the idea by arguing that it would let the start of the NBA's regular season avoid competing with the NFL's regular season.

"A big piece is you don't have to reinvent the wheel to enhance ratings," Koonin said, per ESPN. "Sometimes, moving away from competition is a great way to grow ratings."

This feels ... technically true, if also maybe misguided. The NBA's early months are normally half-ignored, because the games don't really feel momentous in any way. There are literal dozens of games to make up for slow starts, unlike in the NFL.

But that doesnt feel like a time-of-year problem. Football is only played three times per week. It's more of a structural problem: there are too many dang basketball games. Those games will still be ignorable in December and January, because the feeling that early games aren't very important — not true, but fans feel this way! — will still exist.

Plus, moving the league's timeline creates other conflicts.

The most pressing one, to my eye, would be the timing of free agency. The NBA has turned free agency from a marginal discussion into a year-round industry, and the current start of free agency in early July is a destination day for all sports fans in large part because it only faces off with the slog of July baseball. It's become one of the biggest days in the NBA calendar, because of the reality TV-style intrigue but also because of its seasonal advantage.

If you bump everything back two months, the start of NBA free agency is suddenly up against ... the start of the NFL regular season. 


There's nothing wrong with the NBA's current start, and end, dates. The league begins as baseball ends, and as football's initial wave of excitement for all 32 fanbases starts to wane. Playoff races heat up in the New Year, as football thins interest even more, and the postseason thrives as baseball shuffles through the first month of its eternal regular season. 

If you want to inject the NBA regular season with more consistent interest, shorten it. Otherwise, please just leave it alone.

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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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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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