IT STARTS bad and ends even worse. But the 76ers' 66-game schedule, released last night, is very favorable in between.

The Sixers will open with five straight road games, beginning in Portland on Monday, Dec. 26. They will then play at Phoenix, Utah, Golden State and New Orleans before hosting the Detroit Pistons in the home opener on Friday, Jan. 6.

From that point, the Sixers will play 18 of 22 games at the Wells Fargo Center. During that time, they will host Chicago on Feb. 1, Miami on Feb. 3, the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 6 and San Antonio on Feb. 8 before ending the run with the Los Angeles Clippers on Feb. 10.

Twice during the season, they will play three games in 3 days. From Jan. 9-11, the Sixers will host Indiana and Sacramento, then play at New York. From April 16 to 18, the team will go from Orlando to a home game against Indiana, then to Cleveland.

They will wrap up the season with nine of 11 on the road, finishing April 26 at Detroit.

Six of the Sixers' games will be shown on ESPN, all home contests. They are: Golden State, March 2; Chicago, March 4; Miami, March 16; New York, March 21; Boston, March 23 and Orlando, April 7.

Six teams will not be visiting the Wells Fargo Center - Portland, New Orleans, Memphis, Houston, Phoenix and Minnesota.