We asked three of our writers, including Sixerdelphia managing editor Matt Gregan, to name the three most intriguing or interesting games on the Philadelphia 76ers schedule for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
– vs Boston Celtics on Wednesday Oct. 23 @ 7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Opening night. For the second straight season, the 76ers open up their season against the Celtics. This year, the matchup will mark the first meeting between a retooled Boston team led by veterans Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter and a 76ers team that made plenty of changes this offseason. Matchups between the rival Celtics and 76ers are always interesting, but this one should be more exciting because it is the first time the new versions of the teams will be playing against each other. New rivalries could develop, or older rivalries reignited (see: Ben Simmons and Enes Kanter).
– vs Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday Dec. 25 @ 2:30 p.m. on ABC
The Philadelphia 76ers will be hosting a game on Christmas day for the first time since 1988, and it couldn't be a better matchup. This matchup is just a preview of a potential Eastern Conference Finals between the 76ers and the Milwaukee Bucks. It will be interesting to see how the 76ers attempt to match up defensively against Giannis Antetokounmpo. Previously, head coach Brett Brown has set Joel Embiid on the Greek Freak and had mixed results. However, with the additions of Al Horford and Josh Richardson, the 76ers can afford to switch it up at times and present multiple different defensive looks at Giannis.
– vs Golden State Warriors on Tuesday Jan. 28 @ 7:30 p.m. on TNT
The Warriors, even without the likes of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson (injury) and Demarcus Cousins, are still a dangerous team. This matchup with the Warriors should tell 76ers fans a lot about the mettle that the team has. Coming at the end of a grueling stretch of games against a mixture of top teams from both conferences, the 76ers can't take this game lightly.
– @ Denver Nuggets on Friday Nov. 8 @ 9:00 p.m.
While the game is early in the season and only the eighth of the year, this contest should be an indication of how ready the current roster is to compete. Denver is always a tough place to play, with the Nuggets boasting an NBA best 34-7 home record last season. Nikola Jokić is a top offensive player who will show the effects of Joel Embiid's focus on conditioning this summer. Denver's back court features good shooters and will afford the pairing of Ben Simmons and Josh Richardson an early test defensively. Teams traveling to Denver deal with the altitude and often sit players for the game due to load management. While this would be possible for Embiid or Al Horford, not being part of a back to back and so early in the season, I am anticipating a full compliment of players for the showdown in the Mile High City.
– @ Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday Feb. 22 @ 8:30 p.m. on ABC
This is the third of four matchups with the squad expected to meet Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is the last meeting with the Bucks on the road before the playoffs and each team will likely have the same rosters for the playoffs since the trade deadline and buyout market will have passed earlier in the month on the seventh. While there is another meeting between the two, the game on April 7 is in Philadelphia and might have players resting, with it being game No. 78 of the season and playoff seeding could already be locked in place. Beating Giannis Antetokounmpo in his own house will not only be satisfying, but a clear signal to the league that the Sixers, not the Bucks, are the premiere team in the Eastern Conference. A win on the 22nd would dovetail magnificently with my top match up the following week….
– @ Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday March 1 @ 3:30 p.m. on ABC
The game nationally televised on ABC will showcase the Eastern Conference's best team against the team considered by many to be the class of the West in what could easily be a preview of the NBA Finals. In addition to having an elite lineup consisting of Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac, the Clippers might have the deepest bench in the league, highlighted by JaMycal Green, Maurice Harkless and former Sixers Landry Shamet and Lou Williams. Taking care of the Clippers on the road would be more than a statement to the league, it would be a signal to the players themselves that if they focus, play hard defense and protect the basketball on every possession, no team can beat them.
– vs Indiana Pacers on Saturday Nov. 30 @ 7:00 p.m.
This is the first time TJ McConnell will play in the Wells Fargo Center as an opponent. During what will likely be a short run on the floor (he is second on the Pacers’ depth chart at point guard, though a potential early return by Victor Oladipo could push him further down in the overall guard rotation), the biggest question is not will he get a standing ovation from 76ers fans, but how many will he get? And in the tribute video, will the time Joel Embiid attempted to murder him by strangulation on the baseline be the main featured event?
– @ Boston Celtics on Thursday Dec. 12 @ 8:00 p.m. on TNT
Before the acquisition of Jimmy Butler, it had been a long time since the Sixers picked up a star player either as a free agent or via trade. In Butler’s first game back in Minnesota, he struggled, scoring just 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Al Horford returns to Boston on this night, and while it seems safe to say that he is not likely to shoot 4-of-17 (it seems unlikely he will take 17 shots in any games at all this season), how he performs against the team he spent the last three seasons with, and had an acrimonious departure from, will be very interesting. A potential matchup against either the defensively-challenged Enes Kanter or immature Robert Williams should be quite entertaining.
– vs Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday April 15 @ 7:30 p.m.
Playoff seeding will likely be locked up by this point. Garbage time is common enough in the NBA, but entire garbage-time games are a relatively new phenomenon. A starting lineup of Kyle O’Quinn, Jonah Bolden, Zhaire Smith, Matisse Thybulle and Raul Neto is not out of the question here. It’s not hard to imagine 30-plus minutes of Trey Burke shooting from everywhere on the floor as a confused Norvell Pelle commits six fouls in 14 minutes looks on. The video from the parking garage as the starters and main contributors walk in will be the only action you will be seeing from the likes of Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris or Ben Simmons on this day.