Philadelphia 76ers Most Intriguing Matchups for 2019-2020
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) -- The NBA world has been waiting for this day ever since the 2019 NBA Free Agency period began to dry up. The offseason can be a nice break away from the game, but once it's gone for a little while, patience begins to wear thin.
Thankfully, the NBA works on getting the schedules out rather early every offseason so fans and teams can start preparing for the new year. A couple of weeks ago, we got our hands on the Sixers preseason schedule. This week, we received the real deal.
To no surprise, the Sixers are one of the most interesting teams in basketball in 2019, considering how many primetime games they have acquired. This year in total, the Sixers will have 36 nationally televised games, which ranks fifth in the NBA behind only the Lakers, Clippers, Rockets, and Warriors.
As the Sixers wrapped up another season with their second-consecutive playoff appearance last year, they are easily one of the Eastern Conference's favorite. And considering their popularity, many will be tuning in this year to see the young veterans attempt to make a run without some of their seasoned veterans from last season.
So with that, let's highlight some matchups to circle on the schedule as some old faces return to Philly, and some new enemies get created.
October 23rd, 2019 vs. Boston Celtics
Here's your season opener, folks. The Sixers tip the year off with a home-opener and it happens to be against their Eastern Conference foes, the Boston Celtics. Anytime the Sixers play the Celtics it is must-see TV. However, this year there's more of a reason to be interested and to tune in.
The biggest reason being the Sixers have former Celtics forward/center, Al Horford. As Boston wanted Horford back in Boston for more years -- they loathed the idea of Horford potentially joining the Sixers. Next thing you know, the Sixers make it a done deal.
What better way to open up the season against Boston with one of their well-respected former veterans in a Sixers uniform rather than a Celtics jersey? This will be a must-see for both Celtics and Sixers fans for sure.
Other matchups: 12/12/19, 1/9/20, 2/20/20
November 13th, 2019 at Orlando Magic*
This game could turn out to be just another matchup between the Orlando Magic and the 76ers -- or it could turn out to be one of the most exciting games on the schedule, and it all comes down to one factor: Will Markelle Fultz play or not?
Two years ago, the Sixers made Markelle Fultz the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. After two strange years of playing, sitting out, and disappearing from the team, Fultz left the Sixers via trade on somewhat bad terms. Although he has yet to make his debut with the Magic, there's hope that Fultz will play in 2019. Maybe he will be on the court with the Sixers for the first time since earlier in the 2018 season.
Other matchups: 12/27/19, 4/5/20
November 23rd, 2019 vs. Miami Heat
The short-lived love affair between Philadelphia fans and Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler is pretty much over. After giving the Sixers some good times for a little over a half of a season, Butler decided that he didn't want to remain in the Northeast.
Something about the Miami Heat pulled Butler in, and he wanted to get there one way or another. So the Sixers did him a favor and gave him up for Heat guard, Josh Richardson. Will Butler be cheered in Philly? Or will he get the enemy treatment? That remains to be seen. However, Richardson also plays a factor in this matchup too since he's out for revenge against the team that decided to trade him.
Other matchups: 12/28/19, 2/3/20
November 30th, 2019 vs. Indiana Pacers
This game will be a competitive matchup one way or another -- but we will keep it highlighted because a beloved 'process era' Sixer will make his return on the other side of the court for the first time.
Former undrafted addition T.J. McConnell has spent the first four years of his career with the Philadelphia 76ers. Surprisingly, the young point guard made a name for himself during the Sixers' darkest days. He wasn't the most talented, but he did work hard and won over the fan base. His return will be celebrated for sure.
Other matchups: 12/31/19, 1/13/20, 3/14/20
December 13th vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis is no longer going to be Joel Embiid's enemy when the Sixers play the New Orleans Pelicans. That doesn't mean the Pelicans matchup won't be as worthy as watching this season though. Former Sixers' sharpshooter JJ Redick has decided to take on a leadership task once again elsewhere in 2019-2020.
While Redick mentioned he wanted to finish his career in Philadelphia, he ended up signing a richer deal with the Pelicans. There were no hard feelings, though. It was assumed Redick wouldn't be back anyway. His return will be fun to watch. Plus, the Pelicans have the No. 1 overall pick in Zion Williamson.
Other matchups: 4/11/20
December 25th vs. Milwaukee Bucks
This year, the Sixers-Bucks rivalry is sure to get taken up a notch. While the Pacers, Celtics, Raptors, and Nets all remain competitive teams in the East, it is believed the Sixers and the Bucks could be the top two teams when playoffs roll around.
Not only is the Bucks versus the Sixers going to be interesting to watch this year -- but they will get a primetime game on Christmas afternoon. The Sixers have had their fair share of Christmas games lately, but this year is extra special because it's at The Center.
Other matchups: 2/6/20, 2/22/20, 4/7/20
January 25th vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers weren't a great basketball team last season. Although they had LeBron James on board for the year, his contributions weren't enough to turn that team around. Therefore, the Lakers didn't offer Philly the most entertaining matchups.
It could be a different scenario this time around, though. As LeBron remains in Los Angeles, he was also gifted with another star in Anthony Davis. Embiid versus Davis matchups will be missed when the Sixers play the Pelicans, but now we get a nice version of Embiid versus Davis and Ben Simmons versus LeBron all in one.
Other matchups: 3/2/20
February 11th vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers matchup surprisingly has a lot linked to it. Sixers' star Tobias Harris came from the Clippers along with another returning Sixer, Mike Scott. In return for those guys, the Clippers hold the promising young rookie, Landry Shamet who got his start as a Sixers' draft pick.
That's not the most significant part of that matchup though. All eyes will be on the Sixers newfound enemy, Kawhi Leonard. That's right -- the guy who hit the dagger in Embiid's face during the final seconds of a game seven matchup in the playoffs.
Other matchups: 3/1/20
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN. You can follow Justin on Twitter: @JGrasso_