January 17, 2017
With the Sixers having won six of their last eight games (and six of seven with Joel Embiid in the lineup), they now find themselves in the strange position of actually getting flexed into national television games.
What a time to be alive.
The NBA announced late Tuesday night that the Sixers game against the Houston Rockets on Friday, January 27th from South Philadelphia will be moved from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. and local to national television. That game will replace Heat-Bulls on ESPN, the type of move that very few would have predicted before the season.
And now the NBA removes the Heat-Bulls Jan. 27 game from its national schedule, replaced on ESPN by Rockets-76ers.— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) January 18, 2017
HOU at PHI game time will be changed to 8:00ET and will now be televised by ESPN (& of course @CSNPhilly)...ESPN dropped MIA-CHI for it— Molly Sullivan (@MSullivanFrench) January 18, 2017
Outside of the juicy subplot of Mike D’Antoni coming back to Philly for the first time since leaving (OK, not quite), there is already some speculation popping up on Twitter about ESPN’s motives. Namely, could Ben Simmons perhaps make his season debut on national television? We will see.
Regardless of Simmons’ status, the Sixers will have a day off before the game against Houston so you know that Embiid will be in the lineup barring injury. And with the team’s improved play as of late, it makes sense that ESPN would want to air them against D’Antoni (the frontrunner for coach of the year) and a Rockets team that has stunned the league with James Harden and their prolific three-point bombing.
Before the season, the Sixers were scheduled for three national television dates, two on ESPN and one on TNT. They went 0-3 in those games.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann