While the status of the 2011-2012 NBA season is certainly in limbo due to the current lockout, there's no harm in looking ahead to the games we'd love to see...if they're played. The 76ers schedule is one of the league's best, featuring a number of marquee match-ups and rivalry games. Without further ado, here are the 10 Sixers games you need to see next season.
As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.
When: Saturday, November 26 at 7:00 pm
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Why: The Knicks improved by leaps and bounds last season, and odds are they'll continue to get better. This could be a preview for a playoff matchup between the upstart Sixers and the star-studded Knicks. And the matchup between All-Star Camelo Anthony and the emerging Thaddeus Young could be awesome.
When: Saturday, January 28 at 7:00 pm.
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Why: The Sixers-Pistons rivalry is decades old—this is just the next iteration that goes back before the days of Dr. J. There's lots of bad blood and no love lost between these two teams. It's a recipe that makes for great basketball.
When: Friday, January 13 at 7:00 pm.
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
Why: The matchup between emerging Sixers star Jrue Holiday and former #1 overall draft pick John Wall promises to be electric. Its a duel between athletic, young floor generals that should be filled with high-octane, end-to-end action for 48 minutes.
When: Monday, January 2 at 7:00pm.
Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ.
Why: Hall of Fame-caliber players don't come around too often, and that's exactly what Steve Nash is. Even at 37, Nash can still make plays that will leave everyone wondering what just happened. The Suns may not be the team they once were, back when A'mare and Shawn Marion joined Nash on the fast break, but they still have a two-time MVP. I'll be watching the game just to see Nash play.
When: Friday, January 20 at 7:00 pm.
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA.
Why: The Thunder's dynamic young duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook gave the future World Champion Dallas Mavericks a run for their money in the Western Conference playoffs. The Thunder are likely to be in serious Championship contention in 2011-2012, so this game should give a young Sixers team a glimpse at what they're up against if they make it out of the East.
The game should also be a great chance to see if Holiday and Young have what it takes to stop one of the most electrifying tandems in the NBA.
When: Sunday, January 1, 6:30pm.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA.
Why: Its the Lakers. They have the best player in the world (Kobe Bryant), one of the best post passers in the NBA (Gasol), and one of the best defenders and entertainers I've ever seen (Artest). What's not to love about this matchup?
It's also on New Years Day, so it should be a welcome reprieve from the in-laws and the post-party clean-up.
When: Monday, January 9 at 7:00 pm.
Where: United Center, Chicago IL.
Why: Aside from the Rose-Holiday matchup (which should be absolutely awesome to watch), the Bulls are one of the best teams in the East, if not the best. This game should be a great litmus test for the up-and-coming Sixers to see if they have what it takes to legitimately compete for an NBA title. Its only one game, but it should feature some fantastic defensive basketball and some jaw-dropping fast-breaks.
When: Sunday, December 18 at 1:00 pm.
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA.
Why: The competition for the Atlantic Division crown will likely come down to these two teams. While Boston's "Big Three" have certainly lost a step (or two), all three are still potential Hall of Famers. And Rajon Rando isn't too shabby, either.
Aside from the individual match-ups (Rando vs. Holiday, Turner vs. Pierce, Young vs. Garnett), Sixers-Celtics games seem to always take on a life of their own. There's a lot of history in this rivalry and there's no love lost between these two clubs. It all makes for great basketball.
When: Sunday, November 20, 6:00 pm.
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL.
Why: Redemption. The Sixers were one of the teams the Heat sent packing en route to their NBA Finals loss to the Mavericks. But the Heat still have their Big Three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. After his now-infamous post-Finals press conference, everyone in the league will be gunning to take down the self-annointed King. I, for one, hope the Sixers exact their revenge on the NBA's resident reality show turned basketball team.
When: Tuesday, November 22, 7:30 pm.
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX.
Why: Because they are the World Champion Dallas Mavericks.