Much to our excitement, the 76ers 2011-12 schedule was finally released last night. And while we have no idea what is going to happen with the Sixers roster or the rest of the NBA when the free agency frenzy launches later this week, we took a stab at analyzing the upcoming 66-game slate.
We had to make a lot of asssumptions based on what the teams looked like at the end of 2010-11 in our predictions for 2011-12, so we reserve the right to make some changes after the free agent bonanza comes to a halt.
With those assumptions in mind we believe Sixers fans will be very pleased with how we predict the start off the 2011-12 season will go for the 7-6. If they can manage to survive the opening 5-game Disney on Ice road trip Philadunkia’s home team has been burdened with, then a very pleasing month of January awaits them. So we are predicting a fast start from the 2011-12 Sixers.
However, a fast start may be cancelled out completely if the 7-6 can not keep it together during the brutal stretch the scheduling gods have planned for Doug Collins and Co. in the final month of this shortened season.
Tough early stretch:
We’ll go with the obvious answer here
December 26th – Jan. 4th : @ POR; @ PHX; @ UTA; @ GSW and @ NOH
* The Disney on Ice induced 5-game season opening road trip probably will be the lone hurdle to a fast start in 2011-12. Hopefully this Sixers team has matured enough to handle this scheduling nightmare and the 7-6 won’t end up a hideous 1-4 to begin the season.
The 7 game stretch that could derail the Sixers season:
1/30: vs. ORL
2/01 vs. CHI
2/03 vs. MIA
2/04 @ ATL
2/06 vs. LAL
2/08 vs. SAS
2/10 vs. LAC
Six of the seven games in this stretch are at home, but they are against Eastern powers Orlando, Chicago and Miami as well as daunting Western Conference opponents San Antonio and the Lakers. A rising Clippers team will be no easy task either.
The toughest month:
The stretch from January 30th to February 29th. In that span of time the Sixers will play 16 games in 31 days, headlined by the above mentioned stretch of runs. Also included in that month is a 4 game road trip (@ MIN; @ MEM; @ HOU; @ DET) as well as two back-to-back sets. One of those back-to-back sets is a road-road set (@ Memphis 2/21 & @ HOU 2/22). The other pair is a brutal road-home set featuring a game at DET, followed by a home burn vs. KD and the Thunder.
The month of April. 14 games – 10 road and only 4 home as well as a 5 game road trip to close the 2011-12 season. Included in the closing month’s away runs are big challenges @ Miami, @ BOS, @ ORL and @ MIL. April also contains 5 sets of back-to-back games and one of those sets happens during the final two games of the season which as we mentioned are part of the season ending 5-game road trip.
The easiest month:
The good news is that after the initial 5-game road trip to launch the 2011-12 season, the Sixers are set up to kill it come January. Coming off the five game opening west swing, the 7-6 have two days off and then play DET, TOR, IND and SAC at home. A quick trip to the Garden (@ NYK on 1/11) is followed by a day off and then a home-road back-to-back set vs. the hapless Wizards. After the Wizard two game stretch, the Sixers come home for three straight vs. MIL, DEN and ATL. Of course he NBA then squeezed in a trip to South Beach on the Sixers before they begin another long home stretch (5 in a row at the WFC). The Sixers close the month of January in Philly vs. WAS, NJN, CHA, DET and ORL.
The toughest back-to-backs:
December 30th and 31st …On the 30th the Sixers are at Utah in game 3 of their opening five game road trip and then on December 31st they travel to Oakland to take on Golden State. In this back-to-back set the Sixers mental toughness will be tested more then their basketball skill level, so it will be interesting to see how this young team handles an early psychological challenge.
March 16th and 17th…On the 16th the Sixers are home vs. the Heat. We all know what kind of challenges that will present for Philadunkia’s team. Then Doug Collins and Co. hop a flight to Chi-town for a Saturday night game (3/17) vs. D-Rose and the Bulls.
The toughest road trip:
The five game trip that starts the season and the five game road adventure that closes the season.
The Sixers will play 14 sets of back-to-back games in 2010-11.
They have two back-to-back-to-back triple sets — January 9th, 10th and 11th (vs. IND, vs. SAC and @ NYK); then April 16th 17th and 18th (@ORL, vs IND and @CLE)
Lower Merion product Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers make their annual appearance in Philadelphia on Monday, February 6th.