Nerlens Noel has been impressive in the Orlando Summer League, particularly on the defensive end. Credit: Getty Images
The 2014-15 Philadelphia 76ers’ schedule has been released.
While the Sixers remain light years from a championship-caliber team, it’s always exciting to see the new schedule and identify some intriguing matchups.
Picking five to highlight out of 82 is not an easy task. But here we go:
Oct. 29 at Indiana
The season opener is always fascinating because that’s when the games count for real. The Pacers are banged up, especially with the loss of All-Star Paul George to a gruesome leg injury in a U.S. national team scrimmage. Without George, Lance Stephenson and former Sixer Evan Turner, this matchup doesn’t have the same buzz. Any season opener is special and this will likely be the first look at Nerlens Noel. That in itself is worth everything to Sixers fans.
Nov. 1 vs. Miami
Just like last season, the Sixers will open their home schedule against Miami. Since the Heat lost LeBron James in free agency to the Cleveland Cavaliers, this game isn’t quite as enticing. But with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng, the Heat remain a potent team in the Eastern Conference. Even though the Sixers are likely to wind up in the lottery once again, the home opener will give the fans a glimpse into the future.
Dec. 1 vs. San Antonio
The NBA champion Spurs visit the Wells Fargo Center for the lone time on this date. The stellar trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili don’t seem to be slowing down at all. There’s such a strong supporting cast that another championship is well within reach for coach Gregg Popovich and Co. They may not have the flash of other players such as LeBron James, but anytime the champions come to town, it’s a must see.
Jan 5 vs. Cleveland
King James will return to Philadelphia with the Cavaliers. It’s been a wild offseason and the pieces fell into place around the league once James decided to head back to Cleveland where his career started. It’s a new look team but also a dynamic one which will surely be a contender in the Eastern Conference. James will be motivated to prove that he made the right decision in leaving Miami, and he always seems to elevate his game in Philadelphia.
March 30 vs. L.A. Lakers
There are other games with major storylines, but the Lakers’ annual visit to Philadelphia is going to be great, mostly because Kobe Bryant is on the mend from another major injury. Bryant, a former star at nearby Lower Merion High School, revels in playing against the Sixers. Since Bryant is nearing the end of a brilliant career, it’s hard to say how many more times he’ll be healthy to play here. Look for Kobe to have a big night.