With so many unknowns on the eve of the opener, I'm going to take a safer route in making my predictions now that I've witnessed the preseason in all its glory. After the jump, I'll take a look at the first 10 games and we'll go from there.
For the record, I predicted a 46-36 record for the season, and I'm sticking with that. Big picture, I'm expecting things to click for this team some time in mid-late November and I'm expecting a couple of serious runs and a much stronger finish than last season to wind up with 46 wins and the #4 seed.
Now that we have that out of the way, here are the first 10 games on the schedule, with my predictions.
@ Orlando, 10/28 - No Rashard Lewis, but Orlando is the type of team that the Sixers will have to be clicking on all cylinders to beat. I don't think they're there yet. (L)
Milwaukee, 10/30 - Expect Hakim Warrick to go off in the Charlie Villaneuva role. Expect a couple oohs-and-ahhs from Brandon Jennings. More than anything, expect a comfortable, double-digit win for the Sixers in their home opener in front of 10,000 adoring fans. (W)
@ New York, 10/31 - Luckily, the ass end of the first back-to-back of the season will come against the Knicks. A tired team will probably let the Knicks back in it in the second half due to sloppy play, but the Sixers hold on to go over .500 for the first time on the young season. (W)
Boston, 11/3 - A few days off and back home for a major challenge in the form of a bunch of old guys and Rajon Rondo. I'm looking forward to seeing Jrue Holiday guard Rondo. I'm not looking forward to seeing Rondo guarding Jrue. Don't think the Sixers will be up for this type of challenge this early in the year. (L)
New Jersey, 11/6 - The Sixers are a better team than the Nets, but they haven't shown it in head-to-head matchups. I'll give them the edge here mainly because they're playing at home. This is the swing game of the first 10, in my mind. (W)
@ Detroit, 11/8 - Detroit is lacking in so many ways. They don't have the defensive horses anymore, they don't have any kind of inside game at all. I'm counting this one as a win. (W)
Phoenix, 11/9 - This is the kiss of death, a back-to-back with the second game at home, against the newly reborn Suns and their seven seconds or less offense. Speights will go off, but I think the Sixers lose this one. (L)
@ New Jersey, 11/11 - I'm giving the Sixers a home-and-home split with the Nets in the early going, but it could go either way. (L)
Utah, 11/13 - Will Carlos Boozer playing for a payday be a good thing for the Jazz? I'm not sold. Still, they're a quality team, and the Sixers will struggle against quality teams until they figure things out. A close game, but a loss. (L)
@ Chicago, 11/14 - I'm not sure how worried Chicago fans should be about the loss of Ben Gordon. Gone is his ability to drop 40 on anyone, but also gone is a shooting guard who will allow someone else to drop 40 on any given night. I think it's going to take some time for them to figure things out without their go-to guy, though. I'm going with the Sixers because I think Iguodala is way too much for Salmons to handle, Thad will make Deng look older and slower than he actually is and the Sixers D should stifle the Bulls. (W)
Five games at home, five on the road. Three back-to-backs. Five against playoff teams from last season, five against lottery teams. Pretty even schedule to begin with.
Even though I'm probably too optimistic about the Sixers overall season record, I see a mediocre start, 5-5. I see the keys as the home game against the Nets and the two road games against the Pistons and the Bulls. I'll be happy with a 5-5 start, thrilled with anything better. 4-6 wouldn't leave me overly concerned, 3-7 would be a problem.
What do you guys think? Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.
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