Ranking the Philadelphia 76ers' Most Despised Rivals This Season
With the regular season under way and the Sixers putting together a 6-4 record, it can be said that rivalries have been both renewed and solidified.
Rivalries are a great aspect of sports—they get fans involved, influence the players to really give their full effort and even lead to individual rivalries between players.
Considering that the Sixers are in for a competitive season, one can only predict that the rivalries will get heated.
The following rankings are based on recent history between the two teams, potential tension and the overall impact and significance of each matchup this season.
5. Toronto Raptors
Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Naturally the Toronto Raptors make the list, because they're in the same division.
Last season the Sixers finished 2-1 against Toronto. They've defeated the Raptors in their one matchup so far this season, 93-83. So the Sixers definitely have their number, but that one loss last season came at a margin of over 20 points.
And despite winning three of their last four matchups, the Sixers have yet to find a way to stop Andrea Bargnani. In fact, Bargnani has finished as the highest scorer in every game he's played in, with over 20 points every time.
Because the Sixers have yet to find a way to stop his production, he can go off at any point in time. When he goes off, you know it will not be easy. These two teams face each other Tuesday in what should be a good game.
4. Chicago Bulls
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The Sixers were 1-2 in the regular season last year against the Bulls, but won the series that mattered in the playoffs. But when both Rose and Joakim Noah went down in that series, the Bulls fans could only envy the Sixers' luck.
The matchup has the potential to get even bigger down the line this season, because both of these teams will be close to each other in the playoff race.
Considering their first encounter with the Bulls takes place at Chicago, the Sixers should hear the wrath of the fans.
3. Brooklyn Nets
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The Sixers have yet to face them in the regular season this year, but we can determine from their preseason matchups that every game will be a close one. In fact, the Nets actually gave the Sixers their only loss in the preseason, and it came in overtime.
What must be noted about this matchup is the amount of damage done by Deron Williams. It is hard for Sixers fans to forget when he dropped 34 points and 11 assists last season to hand the Sixers an overtime loss.
It's an action like this that gets Philadelphia fans frustrated not only with the team as a whole, but with Jrue Holiday specifically. He cannot disappear against the big-name point guards if he wants to be considered on their level.
The Nets seem to have put the pieces together quickly this season by starting off with a solid 6-2 record. To think that the Nets can get away with such an accomplishment simply through the power of money alone must infuriate every Sixers fan.
2. New York Knicks
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What Philadelphia sports fan does not despise New York in general?
The Sixers have already faced the Knicks twice this year, and both games resulted in a significant loss: 100-84 and 110-88. To make it even worse, the games occurred two nights in a row.
As the Knicks continue to solidify their record at the top of the Eastern Conference and the division, it makes fans more hungry to win these games (and of course gives them more of a reason to hate New York).
Unfortunately, the Sixers do not have Andre Iguodala to serve as the defensive presence against Carmelo Anthony, but they are still a good defensive team overall and can give Melo a rough time if they execute their responsibilities.
When Melo is given a rough time, he and everyone else becomes animated. It's a trait of the game that fans love to witness.
1. Boston Celtics
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This matchup also serves as a big chance for Holiday to step up both offensively and defensively. Rajon Rondo, who has extended his assist streak to 34 games, has become virtually unstoppable in that aspect of the game. Just imagine if his streak ended against the Sixers with Holiday playing shutdown defense.
OK, perhaps I'm an idealist, but it is an interesting thought. Plus it shows the potential value this series has as a whole. Any outcome can be seen as a big deal.
Although Holiday recorded 21 points and 14 assists in their win against Boston this season, Rondo managed to record 20 assists.
Sixers fans are still bitter after losing to Boston in a seven-game series. Their playoff run was stopped by their historically largest rival. Not only that, but a quiet player rivalry was formed between Lavoy Allen and Kevin Garnett.
Obviously the offense will not be focused on Allen, but his defensive presence against Garnett has a significant impact on the game. Averaging over 15 points and seven rebounds per game, he and Rondo have been carrying the Celtics thus far. That means that if Allen's offensive groove is disrupted, you know he will have a Garnett freak-out.
Tension between these two teams is generally always high. The extra reasons only point to even more of a rivalry.