NBA schedule 2022-23: Five Sixers takeaways

·3 min read

Five takeaways on 2022-23 Sixers schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

If immediate revenge is on your mind, the 2022-23 Sixers schedule isn’t satisfying.

The Sixers’ first game against the team that knocked them out of last postseason is No. 60 of 82. They’ll host the Heat on Feb. 27, the first of three regular-season meetings against Miami.

What else stands out from Wednesday’s schedule release? Here are five takeaways:

Challenging first seven

The second, third, fifth and sixth seeds in the Eastern Conference last season are all among the Sixers’ opening seven games.

After facing the Celtics and Bucks, the Sixers will play two young teams in the Spurs and Pacers. Former Sixers head coach Brett Brown is now a San Antonio assistant.

The Sixers then have two straight road games against the Raptors and a trip to Chicago. Everything tends to balance out in the end, but the Sixers don’t have an easy start.

Early mini-series action 

Within their first 20 games, the Sixers have mini-series (consecutive games against a single opponent) with Toronto, Washington, Atlanta and Orlando. They’ve got a second mini-series against the Magic on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.

Coaches around the league differ in their approach to mini-series, but they present interesting opportunities to adjust. For instance, if the Raptors throw yet another unorthodox, effective coverage at Joel Embiid, how will the Sixers counter? If No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero has a big scoring night on Tobias Harris, will the Sixers change their defensive assignments?

It’s not comparable to the playoffs, but working through those types of questions is useful for a team expecting to contend.

Real chances to practice 

The norm these days in the NBA is to value rest and recovery over practice time. The Sixers have generally only practiced under head coach Doc Rivers when they have two or more days between games. Shootarounds and team film sessions have been far more common.

After their difficult start, practice reps should be relatively abundant for the Sixers. In the window from Nov. 4 to Dec. 30, there are nine occasions in which there are two or more days between Sixers games. That’s a nice stretch for a team incorporating three presumed rotation players in P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House Jr.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Sixers will play 13 back-to-backs.

Lots of travel miles in March 

March figures to be a significant month for the Sixers.

They’ll play a season-high 17 games, 12 of them on the road. The team’s most road contests in a month besides March is six.

The quality of Sixers opponents varies in March, but Rivers has emphasized consistently meeting a certain standard away from home. The Sixers are coming off an East-best 27-14 campaign on the road.

No cupcakes in final stretch 

Every team the Sixers face over their last 12 games was a top-eight seed in the 2021-22 season.

The 64-win Suns; the defending champion Warriors; the Heat, Bucks and Celtics … most teams widely considered among the NBA’s best appear as the Sixers near the finish line.

The Sixers will both begin their preseason (Oct. 3) and end their regular season (April 9) in Brooklyn. If Ben Simmons is active, a Nov. 22 Sixers-Nets matchup in Philadelphia will be the 26-year-old's first regular-season game against his former team.