The Philadelphia 76ers released their shortened 2011-12 schedule a few days ago.
We will have an NBA season...phew!
And what a season it should be for the 76ers as they look to enter into a new era in Philadelphia basketball. A new owner, a new mascot, a new passion for a team that has lacked a fanbase for the past several years.
The one thing that sticks out to me from last season is Games 3 and 4 in the playoffs against the Heat. I just can't get over the overwhelming feeling of having the Wells Fargo Center packed to see Sixers basketball. The whole city came out to watch and cheer on the super underdog.
That passion, that support, that fire should be back for this year's team as well. The core group of players are still on the roster and Doug Collins is now entering his second year as the head coach.
With plenty of games to choose from, here are 10 that fans must watch.
Gotta start off with the season opener right? It's going to be a late one though, so force yourself to watch this team open its new season.
The Sixers start off the season on a pretty tough five-game road trip the day after Christmas. Some gift, huh?
Portland continues to rise in the Western Conference and play the same style of offense the Sixers do.
They try to score as quickly as they can and then defend their half of the court. Brandon Roy was an All-NBA player a few years back. Last year was a disappointment in my book.
How will 2012 go?
Why Golden State you ask? Well, two things...
March 2 will be the first time that the Sixers will be on national TV in over a year. Last season they were left completely off the national TV schedule, probably because no one cared for them. This year they have six games on ESPN and even more on NBA TV.
Secondly, the Sixers will get to see the player that could have been a Sixer, according to multiple reports last year. Monta Ellis was rumored to have been discussed in trade talks, with the Sixers sending Andre Iguodala over to the west coast.
How close the Sixers were in the playoffs last year, but yet how so far away they ended up.
In their series last season, the Sixers played the Heat very well, which was a promising and uplifting sign heading towards the future.
Now, in their second game against the Heat in 2012 (their first at home), the Sixers try to cool the Heat once again.
Can't forget about the home opener right?
I cannot wait to see what Joshua Harris, Adam Aron and company have in store for us this season. The ownership group promises us a new experience unlike any other.
Attending a basketball game is more than seeing the actual game. It's the atmosphere, the fun, the entertainment, the service.
The game is definitely a big part, so let's discuss that. Detroit comes in with a relatively weak team so Sixers fans should be treated with a W in the home opener.
Another puzzler right?
Well, this game is the end of the second back-to-back-to-back for the Sixers this year, which is unheard of in basketball.
Not only is it three games in a row, but the timing is unfortunate. The Sixers play these three games the week before the season ends and the game in Cleveland starts their final five-game road trip to end the season.
This stretch of games will determine the Sixers' seed in the playoffs, assuming they play well enough to make it.
What fan doesn't anticipate Kobe Bryant returning to his old stomping grounds in Philadelphia?
He may not get the best reception every time he comes back, but you've got to admit, he's noticed. The Lakers always sell out the arena and fans come to watch one of the best basketball players in the world.
The Lakers will be on a mission this year. Mark my words.
This guy is one of the true stars in the NBA and one guy that any team can build a winner around.
I'd like to see how the Sixers match up against Chicago and how well they can play with a Championship contender.
If for nothing else, watch the game for Chicago's sweet green uniforms in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
I had to put one of the Boston games up here. Their rivalry really came alive (a little) last season with some really good battles.
The Sixers, although vastly overmatched, always played well against the Celtics and came out with a few wins.
This game will showcase the teams on national TV.
Don't worry. Dirk Nowitzki will be in top basketball shape come February.
It's not often that you get to say you saw the World Champions play in your building. Well, the Dallas Mavericks make one stop in Philadelphia and it will be a few days after Valentine's Day.
If you want to see "team" basketball played, watch the Mavs.
Last but certainly not least, Carmelo Anthony and company will be awaiting their Turnpike rivals in mid-January.
I have to be honest, there might not be a better place to watch a basketball game than at Madison Square Garden, even if its on TV.
MSG is the mecca of the basketball world. Hopefully the Sixers/Knicks rivalry picks up again as they were both battling each other for playoff seeds last year.