Sixers Schedule Release: MVP Bad Blood Highlights ‘NBA Rivals Week’

Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic

Getty Nuggets star Nikola Jokic won the 2021 NBA MVP award over Sixers center Joel Embiid.

The NBA released the full schedule for the 2022-23 season with a new wrinkle called “Rivals Week.” The week runs from January 24 through January 28. The Philadelphia 76ers are featured in two of those games: Nets at Sixers (January 25) and Nuggets at Sixers (January 28).

Brooklyn and Philadelphia are emerging rivals, especially after the Ben Simmons for James Harden trade. And Kevin Durant’s uncertain future adds another element of intrigue. The Nets and Sixers will actually play four times in the regular season. Save the dates. Head coach Doc Rivers already let his thoughts on the rivalry be known.

“I don’t know what a rivalry is honestly,” Rivers said on March 10. “I think, I just don’t know, I know the Red Sox and Yankees is a rivalry. Duke-North Carolina, I’m positive that’s a rivalry. Philadelphia and Boston from years ago, that’s a rivalry. This? I think, let’s make it one. We have the exact same goals, right? I think Brooklyn wants to win a world championship and so do the Sixers.”

Meanwhile. it’s funny that the schedule makers penciled in “Nikola Jokic vs. Joel Embiid.” Not Nuggets vs. Sixers. It’s an obvious reference to the ongoing debate about whether Jokic was the deserving MVP over Embiid over the past two seasons. It’s an argument that rankles the Philly faithful to the core.

Embiid? Well, the consecutive snubs no doubt bothered him but he isn’t focused on it.

“I wonder what else I have to do to win it, and to me, it’s like, at this point it’s like, it’s whatever,” Embiid said on May 11. “It’s all about focusing, not that I wasn’t focused on the bigger picture, but you know, it’s really time to really put all my energy into the bigger picture, which is to win the whole thing.”

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Sixers Get 34 National Games, Open vs. Celtics

Bits and pieces of the Sixers’ schedule had been leaking out in recent days. For example the road opener against Boston (October 18); the home opener against Milwaukee (October 20). And the Nets-Sixers matchups. James Harden had already revealed the Christmas Day matinee against New York.

Here are some other notable home matchups that highlight the 82-game slate:

Ben Simmons’ Return: Ticket prices will be soaring (Bruce Springsteen style) for November 22 when the Nets come to Wells Fargo Center. It will mark the first time Simmons steps foot on a court in Philly in a meaningful basketball game since June 20, 2021. Look for colorful shirts being sold in the parking lots. And plenty of spirited chants throughout the contest. Mr. Softee is coming home.

The King is Here: LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers invade town on December 9 in what should be an entertaining game. It’s hard to know how good the Purple & Gold will be coming off a brutal 33-49 season. But King James — fresh off a new two-year, $97.1 million extension — always puts on a show.

Chasing the Warriors: Everyone is chasing the Golden State Warriors, the reigning world champions. Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson are scheduled to visit town on December 16. The Sixers went 1-1 against the Warriors last season, including a 102-93 win in Philly. Matisse Thybulle was relentless on defense and held Curry to 18 points.

Boston Tea Party: The Sixers open against the Celtics in Boston on October 18, then play them again in Beantown on February 8. Two good early tests. But they don’t get them at Wells Fargo Center until Saturday, February 25 in a prime-time showdown on ABC. It was a bloodbath the last time the Celtics came to Philly: 135-87. Of course, the Sixers were down a ton of players in that one which came right after the Harden trade.

East Semifinals Rematch: The Sixers will have to wait until February 27 to try and exact revenge on the Miami Heat, the team that ousted them from last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Jimmy Butler was pretty vocal after Game 6 – “Tobias Harris over me!?” — and that series got chippy at the end. New twist? P.J. Tucker switched sides in the offseason.

Tickets on Sale: Schedule Notes

Sixers tickets are on sale (via Ticketmaster) and the team expects all 41 home games to sell out. Philadelphia has 34 games being broadcast on national television this season, with local coverage on NBC Sports Philadelphia and 97.5 The Fanatic.

Here are some interesting facts and figures, via an official press release:

  • The 76ers will have 17 weekend home games (9 Fridays, 5 Saturdays, 3 Sundays).
  • Slated for 13 back-to-back games, 4 of which will come on the road in March.
  • Also, 12 away games, marking the most road games for a single month this season.
  • Longest road trip of the season runs 8 days and 5 games: Utah (Jan. 14), LA Lakers (Jan. 15), LA Clippers (Jan. 17), Portland (Jan. 19), Sacramento (Jan. 21).
  • Longest homestand is 7 games over 15 days: LA Lakers (Dec. 9), Charlotte (Dec. 11), Sacramento (Dec. 13), Golden State (Dec. 16), Toronto (Dec. 19), Detroit (Dec. 21), and LA Clippers (Dec. 23).
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