Philadelphia 76ers Season Opener: Wheels up to Milwaukee

Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Wheels up to Milwaukee

The Philadelphia 76ers season opener is on Thursday night in Milwaukee. Last season, in one of two matchups away from home against the Bucks, the Sixers snapped Milwaukee’s 16-game win streak. They accomplished this in come-from-behind fashion as they trailed the Bucks by 18 points late in the 3rd quarter. The final score back on March 4th was 133-130 in favor of Philadelphia, behind 38 points from James Harden and 31 from Joel Embiid. As we get ready to turn the page to the 2023-24 season we must acknowledge just how different these two teams look heading into the season opener.

Dame Time in Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Bucks made the biggest acquisition of the off-season as they acquired superstar, Damian Lillard from the Portland Trailblazers. Many Sixers fans had their minds set on Lillard becoming a 76er but ultimately it was the offer from Milwaukee that sealed the deal. As part of a 3-team deal with Portland and Phoenix, the Bucks landed Damian Lillard by trading away Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, and a 2029 1st-round pick. This paired with 2 first-round pick swaps with the Trailblazers got the deal done.

What can we expect from Milwaukee this season? The Sixers will be the first to take their shot at this team in their season opener on Thursday night.

This move has positioned the Milwaukee Bucks among the favorites to win the NBA Finals in 2024. Pairing two members of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team has certainly put the rest of the league on notice. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Damian Lillard, and a supporting cast headlined by Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez have the Milwaukee Bucks in position to compete for an NBA Title.

New Look Sixers

The 76ers will make their season debut with much of the core group from last season still on the roster. However, off-season acquisitions such as Mo Bamba, Patrick Beverley, Danny Green, and Kelly Oubre Jr. have Sixers fans hopeful that they have strengthened their bench unit.

Nick Nurse 

One aspect of this team that is different this season is the man responsible for coaching the team. Nick Nurse was hired to be the Head Coach of the Philadelphia 76ers on May 29th after the team parted ways with Doc Rivers. Despite similar roster construction, this Sixers club will look different from a schematics standpoint. It is the hope of Sixers fans everywhere that Nurse will be able to lead this team to another level.

James Harden

The most notable story for the majority of the off-season and one that looks to continue into the regular season is the James Harden situation. On June 29th, James Harden opted into his deal for the 2023-24 season with the 76ers, as both parties agreed to explore trade options for the 34-year-old future Hall of Famer. Reports have indicated that Harden has had his sights set on joining the Los Angeles Clippers, though the two teams have not yet reached a deal, nearing 4 months later.

Since then, as far as pre-season activities are concerned, James Harden’s appearance at team functions has been hit or miss. Harden did not attend 76ers media day on Monday, October 2nd and he showed up a day late for Sixers training camp in Colorado. Despite being at a few team practices, Harden did not appear in any preseason games. He has also failed to show up for the last several team practices as we enter into the NBA’s opening week.

Questions Without Answers (James Harden)

  1. How long will the James Harden saga continue?
  2. When will Harden be dealt in a trade and what will the return package look like?
  3. How will this Sixers team stay afloat without James Harden in the lineup?

Questions Without Answers

  1. Nick Nurse has stressed that Joel Embiid and Paul Reed will be on the floor together, what will this look like?
  2. Will Tyrese Maxey make another jump in production?
  3. After losing the bench production of Georges Niang and Shake Milton, who in the 2nd unit will step up in the scoring department?
  4. With several role players competing for minutes, who will be the first five guys off the bench?

Where to Watch: Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks

While not all of these questions will be answered immediately, we will have our first chance to catch the Sixers in action this Thursday night in the season opener. Coverage begins at 7:30 EST on TNT.