CAMDEN – With the 76ers’ full, 82-game 2017-2018 regular season slate finalized, we can now all start to do some date-circling, while also drawing a few quick conclusions.
For starters, with over a dozen games set to be carried on national television, there is little doubt the NBA views the Sixers as one of its teams to watch this year. The club will appear at least nine times on ESPN, and five times on TNT, ushering in an influx of exposure the franchise hasn’t experienced since the height of the Allen Iverson era.
On top of that, a swift glance at the schedule reveals something else, and, arguably, something of even greater significance. The Sixers, like their peer organizations around the rest of the league, are going to be in line for more rest this year, thanks to the NBA’s new scheduling points of emphasis.
For a good while, players – including many of the league’s stars – have been outspoken in expressing hope that, at some point soon, the NBA would find ways to ease the burdens of its schedule. Based on its actions, the league not only heard these calls, but made it a priority to address them.
By cutting down on pre-season games, and moving the regular season start date up a week (October 18th will mark the Sixers’ earliest opener since the 1980-1981 campaign), the NBA has created a whole lot more breathing room for its teams than in the past. Simply put, the league wants players to be frequently and consistently fresh.
Most notably, back-to-backs – instances in which clubs are required to play two games in as many days – have been reduced across the board. This year, NBA teams will average 14.4 back-to-backs, down from 16.3 a season ago.
Furthermore, and in a general sense, the league’s 2017-2018 schedule will have fewer condensed pockets. No longer will teams be required to play four games in five days, and stretches of five games in seven days have been further scaled back.
At the Finals in June, Commissioner Adam Silver talked about the importance of player rest, saying that studies conducted by the NBA have demonstrated, “It’s not 82 games, it’s not the length of the season, it’s the time between games” that poses the greatest risk for fatigue and injury.
Check out the opening portion of the video below to hear more from Silver on the subject.
As for specifics surrounding the Sixers’ 2017-2018 schedule, here’s a closer look. Also, stay tuned in the days ahead for conference-by-conference, opponent-by-opponent profiles.
The Sixers are currently poised to be featured on ESPN and TNT, the NBA’s two primary national television partners, a combined 14 times, up 10 from last season’s total. These games are…
• 10/18 @ Washington (ESPN, season-opener)
• 11/15 @ Los Angeles Lakers (ESPN)
• 12/7 vs. Los Angeles Lakers (TNT)
• 12/15 vs. Oklahoma City (ESPN)
• 12/25 @ New York Knicks (ESPN)
• 12/28 @ Portland (TNT)
• 1/18 @ Boston (TNT)
• 1/28 @ Oklahoma City (ESPN)
• 2/2 vs. Miami (ESPN)
• 2/6 vs. Washington (TNT)
• 2/25 @ Washington (ESPN)
• 3/1 @ Cleveland (TNT)
• 3/4 @ Milwaukee (ESPN)
• 4/11 vs. Milwaukee (ESPN)
Catching Up On Rest:
The Sixers will play 14 sets of back-to-back games, down from the 18 they were assigned last season. Only two of these back-to-backs will require time zone changes (12/9 @ Cleveland & 12/10 @ New Orleans; 12/18 @ Chicago & 12/19 vs. Sacramento).
Also worth highlighting is that the Sixers will have 14 “fresh” games, which, as the NBA defines them, are those games that fall on days when a team “did not play the day before, and its opponent did.” In 2016-2017, the Sixers were “fresh” just eight times.
Conversely, the Sixers have 11 “tired” games this season, meaning that the club will have played the previous day, while its opponent was idle.
Settling In, Setting Out:
The Sixers longest stint at The Center this season will come relatively early, via a six-game, 12-day homestand. They’ll host Golden State November 18th, Utah on the 20th, Portland on the 22nd, Orlando on the 25th, Cleveland on the 27th, and Washington on the 29th.
Twice this year, the Sixers will be tasked with managing five-game, nine-day treks. The first of these season-long trips will take the group to Utah November 7th, Sacramento on the 9th, Golden State on the 11th, and the Clippers on the 13th. The squad will stay in Los Angeles to battle the Lakers on the 15th. The Sixers’ second five-game swing will start in Toronto December 23rd, then continue on to New York (12/25), Portland (12/28), Denver (12/30), and Phoenix (12/31).
• The Sixers will play a pair of afternoon games, first on December 25th at New York, and then again on January 15th at home versus Toronto. The latter tilt will be part of the NBA’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.
• The Sixers, per the NBA, will travel a total of 40,928 miles this season, a figure slightly below the league average.
• The Sixers will open their home schedule Friday, October 20th against the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics. The last regular season date at The Center also coincides with the Sixers’ April 11th nationally-televised finale versus Milwaukee.
A Couple Home Dates Worth Circling:
• Tuesday, 10/25 vs. Houston – CP3 and The Beard, live in the flesh.
• Saturday, 11/18 vs. Golden State – the defending champs’ lone stop in South Philadelphia.
• Monday, 11/27 vs. Cleveland – the King comes to town for the first time (he and the Cavs return Friday, 4/6).
• Thursday, 12/7 vs. Los Angeles Lakers – potential second pairing of No.1 Markelle Fultz and No. 2 Lonzo Ball.
• Friday, 12/15 vs. Oklahoma City – Russell Westbrook has a new running mate in Paul George.