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Sixers face predictably rough 2014-15 NBA schedule

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The 2014-15 NBA schedule was revealed for the Philadelphia 76ers and everyone else on August 13. Naturally, the Sixers weren't part of any future games that ESPN and most NBA fans were talking about. But while everyone will look forward to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers' first games against the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers, the Sixers won't see James until January 5, 2015, in one of the few games to look forward to on their schedule this season.

One possible exception could come on opening night, if only because it may be the Sixers' first game with Nerlens Noel and Michael Carter-Williams together. At the least, Philadelphia will face a significantly shorthanded team to start the season, as it visits the Paul George-less Indiana Pacers on October 29. However, the Sixers did beat a healthy Miami Heat club to start 2013, and it wasn't a harbinger of good things to come.

After taking on the Milwaukee Bucks and Jabari Parker on Halloween night, the Sixers will hold their home opener against the Heat for the second straight year on Nov. 1. Nevertheless, without James and even with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat are bound to be less of a draw than usual.

Yet the Sixers won't get off easy in many other ways to start the season, as they will face Sam Hinkie's old Houston Rockets team twice in November, along with the Spurs on Nov. 17 and Dec. 1. Former Sixers draft target Andrew Wiggins will likely face them with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 3 and Jan. 30 -- perhaps with soon-to-be former Sixer Thaddeus Young -- while James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving's Cavaliers will only visit Philadelphia on Jan. 5 before hosting the Sixers on Feb. 2 and March 29.

By the time April 2015 comes, the Sixers' season will likely be close to a mercy killing, just like the last two. It will all end with Philadelphia hosting Miami on April 15, before the waiting game for the lottery begins. Whether 2014 lottery pick Joel Embiid plays a single game by then, no one can say right now.

Outside of Philadelphia, few will look at the Sixers' schedule unless they are playing an actual contender - or approach another record-setting losing streak. Yet there are a few gems, even if they come from the opponents only.

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