It’s a big week for sports in Philly, and the Eagles will get things started tonight in Dallas when they face the Cowboys. And on Wednesday night, the Sixers will open their 2019-20 NBA season by welcoming the Boston Celtics to the Wells Fargo Center. That means it’s the perfect time to check in with our Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey. Our Q&A with him offers insights into what you should be watching for as the Sixers embark on their quest for an NBA title.

The week ahead

  • The Eagles and Cowboys are both desperate for a win. The Eagles’ turbulent season is clashing with Dallas’ tailspin. Part of the issue is the number of injuries both teams are dealing with. There will be new faces and temporary replacements all over the field, making this game feel like a toss-up. The winner will be sitting on top of the NFC East — for now.
  • It’s always good when the Sixers head into the regular season picked as one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference for a shot at the NBA title. Before that can happen, the revamped Sixers face the Celtics, an old rival with a new star in Kemba Walker.
  • Jody Gerson, the first woman to run a major music publishing company, is joining the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame on Tuesday. Billboard named her Executive of the Year in 2015 and ranked her as the 14th most powerful person in the music business. “To be honored like that in my hometown? I only wish my dad and my grandfather could see it. Philadelphia is who I am," she said.

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Behind the story with Keith Pompey

Sixers' Joel Embiid stares down the Wizards' Moritz Wagner during the first half of the Washington Wizards at an NBA preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center.
ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer
Sixers' Joel Embiid stares down the Wizards' Moritz Wagner during the first half of the Washington Wizards at an NBA preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center.

Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with Keith Pompey about the upcoming Sixers season.

Yes, we’ve only seen them in the preseason, but the Sixers seem to have established some positive chemistry. What are some major differences you’ve noticed between last year and this year?

The Sixers are a more cohesive group than in seasons past. A lot of that has to do with having better and more experienced players with a common goal of winning an NBA title. Plus, all of the newcomers are great locker-room guys, which is always a plus. The Sixers appear to like each other and have been spending time together off the court to help build team chemistry.

All eyes are on Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, but players on the bench will be just as critical. Who do you think will need to keep the momentum going while the starters rest?

The Sixers must have solid contributions from Mike Scott, James Ennis III, Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton moving forward if they expect to be successful this season. They will also need someone, primarily Furkan Korkmaz, to step up and become a designated three-point specialist off the bench. If that doesn’t happen, they’ll be forced to trade for one.

With the fragmentation of superstars sprinkled around the league, which major story lines do you see developing in the Eastern Conference?

The biggest story line is arguably how the Atlantic Division boasts four of the conference’s elite teams. Sure, free agent acquisition Kevin Durant (Achilles injury) isn’t expected to play for the Brooklyn Nets this season, but the Nets are still solid with the addition of Kyrie Irving. The division also boasts the NBA defending champion Toronto Raptors, who are eager to prove they’ll be fine without Kawhi Leonard (now with the Los Angeles Clippers). The Celtics are also loaded, and the Sixers are one of the favorites to win the title.

So while the Milwaukee Bucks have gotten a lot of attention as possible title contenders, the Sixers have more than just them to worry about?

The Sixers will have to concern themselves with the Boston Celtics. Don’t be fooled by the Celtics losing Horford and Irving in free agency. All-Star Kemba Walker is a solid addition. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are two of the NBA’s top young wings. Gordon Hayward should be back to playing at an all-star level. Center Enes Kanter has had solid games against Embiid. And reserve Marcus Smart has a knack for frustrating opponents with his relentlessness.

You can keep in touch with Keith by following @PompeyOnSixers or emailing kpompey@inquirer.com. And you can also sign up to get Off the Dribble, our new newsletter covering all things Sixers throughout the season.

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Comment of the week

Thank you Solomon I really enjoyed your take on this! I’m a TU grad as well Class of 2016 i think the shirts might have been in reference to Temple booming Black Student Association and the fact that Temple was the first institution to offer a PhD in African American studies. Sometimes I would even hear it referred to as HBTU because it offered many opportunities where black students could easily find community with other black students. I think the historical difference between temple and real HBCU’s is something to always keep in mind. — Jroc, on Despite ‘HBCU-ish’ shirts, Temple University is not historically black

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After his grandmother passed away after battling Alzheimer’s, Ethan Widrig, a St. Joseph’s University senior, has pledged to run a 5K every day for 100 days to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America 🏃🏻‍♂️.