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August 02, 2019

Sixers will host Milwaukee Bucks in Christmas Day showcase game

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040419-JoelEmbiidGiannisAntetokounmpo-USAToday Bill Streicher/USA Today

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) handles the ball against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center.

The Sixers will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas Day this season, a league source confirmed to PhillyVoice on Friday afternoon. ESPN's Malika Andrews was the first to report the news.

With the NBA's full schedule expected to release sometime over the next week, it was about time to tease the full drop with the signature day of the calendar. Here's what the full slate will look like on Christmas (all home teams listed first):

Raptors vs. Celtics

Sixers vs. Bucks

Lakers vs. Clippers

Nuggets vs. Pelicans

Warriors vs. Rockets

As of Friday afternoon, the exact time of the game is not yet clear, though with most of the games involving Western Conference teams, expect the Sixers to get one of the early slots at either noon or 3 p.m. 

Getting a Christmas Day game is turning into a regular thing for these Sixers, who will no doubt be a national television darling once again this season. But a Christmas game at home is a rarity for Philadelphia. 

In fact, the last time the franchise hosted an opponent on Christmas was all the way back in 1988, when they handed the Washington Bullets a 125-110 loss as a parting gift. Yes, it was so long ago that they were still called the Bullets, who featured Jeff Malone and post-ACL tear Bernard King. The league (and frankly, the world) has changed quite a bit since those days.

Of the five games, Sixers vs. Bucks probably trails only the battle for Los Angeles as the most interesting game on the schedule. Both games will pit teams who feel they are favorites to win their conferences against one another, but the proximity of Clips-Lakers and the Kawhi Leonard saga adds a little extra juice to that one.

(You could make a case for Warriors vs. Rockets, but I'm operating under the assumption Klay Thompson will remain out well past then, which takes some of the shine away.)

While we'll have to wait and see if this is the first meeting between the Bucks and Sixers, there will be a ton of intrigue heading in either way, and it should give the Sixers a sense of where they stand after getting to know each other over the first couple months of the season. The Bucks enter the season a more finished product, and their ability to replace Malcolm Brogdon is the only real question coming into the season.

And while it will undoubtedly turn into fodder for sweeping claims one way or another — a win and they're the favorites, a loss and they're doomed to lose in the second round/"FIRE BRETT BROWN!", obviously — we should learn a lot about the Sixers' approach with this new-look group. The first subplot at the top of this writer's mind: will Al Horford be tasked with checking Giannis Antetokounmpo, or do the Sixers want to defend him with a committee of players?

If you want to be in the building for this one, by the way, I'd recommend being ready to strike as soon as tickets get released, because re-sellers are going to have a field day with this one. Or you could wait another 31 years until they get one of these again, your call.

Oh, and one last thing. Thank you to the league for not putting the godforsaken Knicks on this slate. They can return to the Christmas schedule when they field a competent roster again.


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