Philadelphia 76ers earn Christmas Day treatment for second year in row

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

For the second year in a row, the Philadelphia 76ers will play in front of a national audience in a game against the Boston Celtics.

Missing out on big-name players this offseason like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard was a tough pill to swallow at first for the Philadelphia 76ers. But at the end of the day, the most important factor is the Sixers are still going to be viewed as one of the top teams to beat in the Eastern Conference heading into the 2018-19 season.

In fact, when looking at some of the changes involving the Cleveland Cavaliers losing James along with the Toronto Raptors having to send DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs to make way for Leonard, the Sixers may be the second best team in the Eastern Conference at the moment.

Sure, the argument can be made that Philadelphia is talented enough to compete with the Boston Celtics to earn consideration for the top spot. But when seeing how the playoffs turned out a few months back, the Sixers have a lot to prove before they can consider themselves better than the Celtics.

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Luckily, Philadelphia will have plenty of opportunities to do so throughout the 2018-19 season since it was recently announced Brett Brown’s squad would be facing their rivals on Christmas Day. Take this along with the two teams meeting on opening night, basketball fans should be in for quite the treat between these two young teams on the rise in the Sixers and Celtics, especially on Christmas.

Thanks to all of the excitement surrounding a healthy Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, Philadelphia was fortunate enough last season to receive the opportunity to play on Christmas Day last year, which resulted in a 105-98 win over the New York Knicks.

During previous years leading up to last season, a team like the Sixers never would have been considered a team to play in front of a national audience on Christmas, and rightfully so when looking at how painful some of those years of rebuilding were to watch.

Now that they’re a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference, and coming off a strong 2017-18 campaign in which they reached the semifinals of the playoffs, Philadelphia is ready to show the rest of the league they’re not just a one-year wonder.

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Instead, all of those years spent rebuilding seem to have paid off in a big way for the Sixers when looking at how strongly built this team appears to be for years to come. Even if Boston is going to be standing in their way, and give them quite the challenge, at least this will put Philadelphia in better shape to compete against some of the stacked teams in the Western Conference.