Litmus Test: 76ers schedule toughens up in February
The month of January was relatively easy for the 76ers. Anytime you can play the Rockets and Magic twice, plus the Pelicans, Wizards, and Spurs, a good basketball team should win the majority of their schedule in any given month.
76ers in January
- January 3rd: Rockets at 76ers: Win
- January 5th: 76ers at Magic: Win
- January 7th: Spurs at 76ers: Win
- January 10th: 76ers at Rockets: Win
- January 12th: Hornets at 76ers: Loss
- January 14th: Celtics at 76ers: Win
- January 15th: 76ers at Heat: Win
- January 17th: 76ers at Wizards: Loss
- January 19th: Magic at 76ers: Win
- January 21st: Clippers at 76ers: Loss (Collapse)
- January 23rd: 76ers at Spurs: Win
- January 25th: Pelicans at 76ers: Win
- January 27th: Lakers at 76ers: Win
- January 29th: Kings at 76ers: Win
- January 31st: Grizzlies at 76ers: Win
Joel Embiid averaged over 34 points and 10 rebounds in January, landing him his second-straight Player of the Month award, helping to solidify his MVP case. Tobias Harris has been able to bounce back from his early-season struggles and is averaging an efficient 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game this season. Next on the list would be Tyrese Maxey, who averaged 16.8 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds over 11 games in January.
Who knows what the NBA Trade Deadline on February 10th will bring the Philadelphia 76ers. After watching Sacramento Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton put up 38 points, on 11-for-19 shooting, going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc last night, it will take me a while to get over the fact that no trade with the Kings seems likely.
Regardless, the 76ers as built, will enter February looking to prove that the standings aren’t fraudulent and that they are in fact, a contender in the Eastern Conference. In February, the Sixers’ schedule definitely gets harder, having to play the Chicago Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, the Phoenix Suns, and both the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks on the road.
76ers February Schedule
- February 2nd: Wizards (23-26) at 76ers
- February 4th: 76ers at Mavericks (29-21)
- February 6th: 76ers at Bulls (31-18)
- February 8th: Suns (31-9) at 76ers
- February 11th: Thunder (14-34) at 76ers
- February 12th: Cavaliers (30-19) at 76ers
- February 15th: Celtics (26-25) at 76ers
- February 17th: 76ers at Bucks (31-20)
- February 25th: 76ers at Timberwolves (24-25)
- February 27th: 76ers at Knicks (23-27)
Philadelphia faced off against only five teams with a winning record, going 3-2 against the Clippers, Hornets, Celtics, Heat, and Grizzlies. This upcoming month, that number sits at six.
Although those numbers are close, it’s the middle of the pack that changes things up. The 76ers beat up six of the NBA’s worst teams, and they only play one team in February that is out of the playoff picture (Oklahoma City).
You can only play the team that’s in-front of you, the the 76ers did a great job proving they were a legitimately good team, not just capable of beating up on lower-caliber opponents. The Sixers will be able to show if they’re a legitimate title contender over the next couple weeks, facing the first seed in each conference (Phoenix and Chicago).
It’s hard to count the 76ers out of any of these games, and they should easily be able to walk away with a 6-5 record before moving into February. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and a successful month could put them in front with a sizeable lead, facing three of the other top four teams in the East.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images