Sixers’ Second-Half Slate Nothing Short of Challenging


The NBA released the second half of its 2021 schedule on Wednesday. While fans waited with baited breath for the release, it’s hard for Sixers fans not to feel deflated after seeing it.

The slate features several back-to-backs and two rough road trips, one coming up quickly at the end of March. The second half begins March 11, following the All-Star Break. There’s a lot to digest when looking at this new schedule, but the biggest takeaway is the Sixers’ second half is full of challenges.

Road Warriors

The Sixers close out March with a brutal six-game road trip. Five of the six on this trip are against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. Three of those games are against some of the Western Conference’s best teams: the Lakers, Clippers and Nuggets.

Philly has improved their road play from last year, but struggled on their first west-coast trip this year. During the first trip, they limped to a 1-3 record.

This time, the trip is longer and the competition is tougher.

This trip will serve as a good measuring stick for the Sixers’ progress this season. A two-game road series against Milwaukee adds even more difficulty to the Sixers’ road slate. If Philadelphia wants to maintain their top spot in the East, they’ll need to learn how to consistently win on the road.

Back-to-Back Battles

Outside of the west-coast trip, the biggest challenge for the second half comes in the form of eight back-to-back sets.

These sets account for 44% of the Sixers’ second-half games.

Back-to-backs aren’t easy for any team, especially a team like Philly. The availability of All-Star and MVP candidate Joel Embiid, who has been known to rest one game of a back-to-back, comes into question. With so many of these sets, will head coach Doc Rivers offer more load management for Embiid?

Doing so would ensure a fresher big man for the playoffs, but may cost the Sixers when it comes to seeding. Philadelphia is 1-5 this season when Joel doesn’t play. The Sixers currently hold the top seed in the east by a half game over the Brooklyn Nets. With Brooklyn so close, and Milwaukee looming, the Sixers can’t afford to rest Embiid and surrender that seeding.

Marquee Matchups

Ten of the Sixers’ second-half games are scheduled to be national broadcasts. Along with those casts comes tougher competition. All of the Sixers’ nationally televised second-half games are against current playoff teams. Following the tough west-coast trip, the Sixers have another tough stretch in mid-April. Brooklyn, the Clippers and the aforementioned two-game series in Milwaukee highlight the mid-month stretch.

The Milwaukee series offers a good playoff simulation, one month before the playoffs begin, while the Brooklyn game may finally feature both teams at full strength.

The second half of the season is no cakewalk for Philadelphia. Long road trips, several back-to-back games, and tough opponents will challenge Rivers in his first year as head coach of the Sixers. Given Philly’s troubles with both road games and back-to-backs, it’s fair to expect a 21-15 record from the team. A 21-15 run will likely drop the Sixers to the No. 3 seed in the East, creating a difficult path to the NBA Finals.

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About Dave Pedron

As a Pennsylvania native, Penn State grad, and diehard Sixers fan, I'm very excited to cover the team and usher in the next chapter of the Process.

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