76ers 2022-23 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

Dylan Buell/Getty Images

In the Joel Embiid era, the Philadelphia 76ers have never advanced past the second round of the postseason. But there is growing optimism that perhaps this is the year when the team finally takes that next step.

Embiid has continued to evolve into one of the best players on the planet, finishing as the MVP runner-up two seasons in a row. James Harden took a pay cut so the team could sign much-needed depth pieces in P.J. Tucker and Danuel House Jr., who will add toughness and defensive versatility alongside trade addition De'Anthony Melton.

Tyrese Maxey took a major leap in year two and is expected to continue improving alongside Harden. Tobias Harris remains a solid source of offense. The Sixers, after being a skilled but unathletic and defensively-lacking team last year, addressed many of their weaknesses in the offseason.

There are still plenty of questions for this group to answer, but with the schedule unveiling on Wednesday, fans can look over the list of future opponents with a measure of excitement for the season to come.

2022-23 Sixers Schedule Details

Season Opener: at Boston Celtics on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET

Championship Odds: 15-1 (via FanDuel)

Full Schedule: NBA.com

Top Matchups

Brooklyn Nets (First Game: Nov. 22)

Since Ben Simmons demanded a trade out of Philadelphia and landed on the Brooklyn Nets, we still haven't seen him play a game, let alone face his former team.

That should end this season. And it will be a matchup that should garner national attention.

How will Simmons fare against his former running mate in Embiid? What will it be like if he takes the court at the Wells Fargo Center? Will there be animosity between former teammates, or all love?

When the Australian returned to Philadelphia last season in March, albeit from the sidelines, his Nets teammates had his back in a major way, rocking the Sixers 129-100. There was a charge in the air for that game, even with Simmons watching from the bench.

What will it be like when he actually plays against his former team? And given the uncertainty in Brooklyn surrounding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who will be his teammates?

Miami Heat (First Game: Feb. 27)

The Miami Heat knocked the Sixers out of the playoffs in the second round last season, and revenge has to be on the mind in Philadelphia, especially after Jimmy Butler was heard roasting the organization for picking Tobias Harris over him years ago.

But the Sixers also managed to poach Tucker from the Heat, which will add another dimension to the matchup.

Add in the fact that both of these teams are legitimate contenders and these games should be fun.

Season Forecast

So much hinges on Harden.

When the 32-year-old was first traded to the Nets in the 2020-21 season, he was playing at an MVP level before injuries settled in, averaging 24.6 points, 10.9 assists and 8.5 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the field on 16.6 attempts per game.

But the Harden who arrived in Philadelphia looked as though he had lost a step. He sought his own offense less regularly, attempting just 13.6 shots per game. He struggled from beyond the perimeter, hitting on 32.6 percent of those attempts as one of his signature moves, the stepback three, was inconsistent at best.

The 10-time All-Star dedicated himself to getting into top-tier shape in the offseason in an effort to avoid injuries. Perhaps, after hamstring issues over the past year, a healthy Harden will have that burst back. Even last year's version of him still dished out 10.5 assists per game in Philly, giving Embiid the best pick-and-roll partner he's ever had.

So, if Harden can get back to the best version of himself, this Sixers team could be truly scary. Embiid is going to be in the running for MVP if he stays healthy, and Harris is a safe bet to average 17-20 points per game.

The Sixers' season will come down to which Harden appears, how much of a leap Maxey can take in year three and if the team's depth additions cover last year's faults.

Answer those questions in a positive way and this team has a legitimate title shot. Anything less, though, and the Sixers will find it tough to get out of a loaded Eastern Conference come the postseason.

Yet again.

Record Prediction: 55-27

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