Philadelphia 76ers: 5 must-watch games on 2019-20 schedule

Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Philadelphia 76ers
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

4. vs. Boston Celtics, Oct. 23

Opening night. The Sixers will begin the season at home against their top rival, the Boston Celtics. There’s a bit of extra animosity this season, however, as Philadelphia managed to pry away Al Horford in free agency. The Celtics, according to reports, weren’t too thrilled with that process.

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In addition to losing Horford, the Celtics downgraded from Kyrie Irving to Kemba Walker. While not a sharp downgrade at point guard — especially when you consider chemistry — it’s Horford’s loss that drastically lowers expectations for Boston.

Right now, the expectation is Philadelphia and Milwaukee will battle for Eastern Conference supremacy next season. The Celtics, Nets, Pacers and Heat are situated a tier below, scrapping for home-court advantage in most projections.

Despite Horford leaving Boston and joining Philadelphia, it’s an intriguing matchup. The Celtics have always given the Sixers problems. Walker is a quick-twitch scorer, capable of bucket-getting at the highest level. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart will keep the Celtics’ glut of live-ball threats alive.

How the Sixers’ defense handles Boston’s potentially high-octane offense could provide an early indicator of Brett Brown’s new defense. While the Sixers are loaded with high-end defenders, there are still valid concerns over smaller, more dynamic offensive groups.