Philadelphia 76ers 2011-12: The 10 Marquee Matchups Fans Must See

Lake CruiseAnalyst IJuly 22, 2011

Philadelphia 76ers 2011-12: The 10 Marquee Matchups Fans Must See

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    The NBA released its 2011-12 schedule on Thursday, and I hand-picked a few 76ers games for fans to add to their digital calendars.  These matchups were selected like the choicest grapes in the world’s finest vineyards.

    I don’t expect any sour grapes about an unfair slate coming from the team. 

    According to the 76ers website, three home games will air on ESPN—including a clash with Atlantic division foe New York on March 21.  NBA TV set the Sixers up for seven more dates, and Philly-Atlanta will air Thanksgiving Day on TNT.

    The potentially explosive Sixers are supposed to start the regular season north of the international boundary—the Canada-United States border—on Wednesday, November 2.  Philly debuts at home on Friday, November 4 vs. Minnesota at 7 p.m. ET. 

    The Eastern Conference could be up for grabs this season.  I’ll make that determination—see what’s up—after the lockout ends.

    We’d never lock you out, dear readers.  I have 10 ripe games locked down for you to enjoy.  All you need to do is roll the slides, and let great minds collide.

    Starting with No. 10…

10. Philadelphia vs. Toronto, November 2

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    This one is scheduled to be the opening salvo for both teams and the first of their four matchups during the regular season.  I’m eager to see the Opening Day starting lineup and the rotations Doug Collins decided on to start the campaign.

    Toronto finished 22-60 last season—bottom of the totem pole in the Atlantic division.  Philly needs to get off to a good start, and rolling a Canadian-based team is an ideal way to do it.

    Border clash?  What border clash?  This game should be a border beating.

9. New York vs. Philadelphia, November 26

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    The Knicks and Sixers finished second and third, respectively, in the Atlantic last season.  New York was 42-40 and Philadelphia was 41-41.  How’s this for a border clash?  That's a rhetorical question. 

    Due to the division rivalry and playoff contender aspects, this clash of the mediocres will indeed be intriguing.  It’ll be the first of four matchups between the rivals next regular season.  This one takes place on a Saturday night after Thanksgiving Day in Philly.  Will the Wells Fargo Center be live and rocking?

    Time will tell.

8. Philadelphia vs. Boston, December 18

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    Taking place at 1 p.m. ET in Massachusetts—one week before Christmas Day and two weeks before the rocking New Year, I’ll be watching to see if Boston’s window is shutting, while Philly’s is opening, or if it’s the other way around.

    The Celtics won the Atlantic last year, but bowed out to Miami in the playoffs.  The Heat will also be watching to see which team wants another playoff smash-down handed out by South Beach's Big Two.

    Celtics-76ers goes down four times in the upcoming regular campaign.  If the Sixers can steal the first meeting, the victory could catalyze a marvelous season.

7. Philadelphia vs. Los Angeles Lakers, January 1, 2012

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    The Sixers’ season moves into the controversial year 2012 with a bang.  

    The 76ers may have to resort to streetball tactics to beat L.A., but if they can beat the new Lakers, then it could boost the souls of Philadelphians.  The teams will meet again on February 6 in Philly, but the first meeting against the West Coast bullies should be a riveting litmus test.

6. Philadelphia vs. Chicago, January 9, 2012

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    In Chicago, the Sixers will play the first of four meetings with the Bulls—Miami’s victim in the Eastern Conference finals last season. 

    Derrick Rose is coming off an MVP season, and word on the streets is he’s working to improve his already superb conditioning.

    Will the 76ers be able to handle him and his teammates, who also want to beat Miami?  I’ll be watching and will provide you with the latest news and in-depth analysis.  The Sixers’ home finale, by the way, will be handled up on April 13 against these same Chicago Bulls.

5. Indiana vs. Philadelphia, January 25, 2012

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    The bullish Pacers made the playoffs last year and could be poised for a deeper run with the addition of playoffs veteran guard George Hill.  The former San Antonio Spur could provide reliable backcourt scoring and defense for Indiana.

    Philly and Indiana—two upstart and hungry teams—will clash four times during the regular season—all in 2012.  Which one will pace the improving teams in the Eastern Conference?  Stay tuned.

4. Boston vs. Philadelphia, February 10, 2012

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    Be sure to tune in when the Celtics travel to face the Sixers for this game.  Matching up for the second time during the regular season, one of the teams will be looking to even the proverbial score. 

    Will Paul Pierce still be an almost unstoppable force for Boston’s good, and will Andre Iguodala be there to guard him?  Don’t fret.  You can bet I’ll let you know what’s good.

3. Miami vs. Philadelphia, February 13, 2012

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    This will be the second meeting of the 2011-12 season between these two budding rivals.  They talked a lot of trash when they played in last season’s playoffs. 

    Miami backed it up by eliminating Philadelphia, but Doug Collins will have his squad geared up to play some serious ball in this one.

    The first 76ers-Heat game happens on November 20, 2011—a mere three weeks into the season.  It’ll be a big ballgame, but the teams’ level of execution and intensity will grow as we go from the season’s first month.

2. Dallas vs. Philadelphia, February 17, 2012

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    Dallas won the NBA Finals last year and could return with much of the same team intact. 

    During the playoffs, Dirk Nowitzki (left) was a relentless scorer and leader.  If he has the same drive in the upcoming campaign, then it’ll be interesting to see how the Sixers defend him—good or bad.

1. Miami vs. Philadelphia, March 16, 2012

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    Good games come to those who wait, and I’m expecting this scrum to be perhaps the most intense of Miami-Philly's regular-season series.

    Even with NCAA March Madness in full swing, Miami-Philly Round 3—a possible regular-season series tie-breaking brawl—could shockingly draw more national viewers.   

    Philly’s regular-season finale will be madness in Miami on April 18.  That game could’ve been rated No. 1 on this list.  Both teams, however, could be resting players by then, but the fourth scrum could also mark the beginning of hostilities—particularly if the teams are positioned to meet early postseason.

    This slideshow's theme was Miami-Philadelphia—if you didn’t recognize.  Perhaps every sportswriter should have theme music.  Mine would probably be an offbeat instrumental.  Make sure to read my next instrumental beat report; it'll highlight some of Philly’s famous 1970s theme music. 

    I’m Lake Cruise, tooting my own proverbial horn live on the banks of the Delaware River—bell bottoms, afro and everything.  One love, my brothers, from the city known by a similar name.