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What you need to know before the Sixers’ season tips off tonight

Get caught up on whatever you might have missed leading into the season opener.

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are back.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are back.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Can the 76ers improve upon their 52-30 regular-season record? Can they get past Boston, or maybe Toronto, to make it to the NBA Finals? Those questions — and plenty of others, such as what Markelle Fultz's jump shot will look like, and how he and Simmons will play together once they hit the floor — will finally be answered, as the 2018-19 NBA season tips off tonight.

Before the Sixers and Celtics begin the next chapter of their storied rivalry, let's take a look at what you might have missed from our season preview.

This is Embiid’s team

The 24-year-old Cameroonian is the alpha dog of the Sixers, and he enters the season without any summer or preseason workout restrictions for the first time since he was drafted. And he is excited.

"I kind of count this as my rookie season, because I'm coming in healthy," Embiid said. "For the first time ever, I got a chance to work on my basketball skills, which I feel like I've already gotten so much better with the help of the coaches and my trainer."

But what kind of Embiid will we see? Keith Pompey explores.

They love him, mate

We all know Philly loves Ben Simmons. But there might be one place that loves Ben Simmons even more, and that's his home country.

The Sixers guard is big in Australia. Really big.

Mike Jensen wandered around Sydney, where he found a man in a No. 25 Sixers jersey shooting hoops with his son and that same blue-and-white ensemble on display in sporting-goods stores.

Even though basketball plays second (and third) fiddle to rugby and Australian Rules Football, Simmons has transcended it all to be the most popular sports figure in the country. And what's next?

"Positioning him to be the next face of the sport globally," a local icon said. Read more from Jensen here.

Simmons' journey has brought him from Australia to Florida to Louisiana and to Philly. But what about his developmental road map? Sarah Todd explores how Simmons can improve upon his historic season with three key things he'll need to work on.

>> READ MORE: After upgrades, Wells Fargo Center opens up to a new horizon

Be patient

In July, Sixers coach Brett Brown said he thought Markelle Fultz would "have a hell of a year."

Last week, he changed his tune, saying fans need to be patient.

Whichever Fultz fans see this season, it will likely be an improvement on the one who missed 68 games last year. Pompey explores what the Sixers hope their top draft pick in 2017 will become.

Bob Ford tells us that this season will determine if Fultz can become the third star the Sixers need him to be, or if it's time to find a new slant.

Making moves

The Sixers lost Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli to free agency and replaced them with Mike Muscala and Wilson Chandler — two decent, but not perfect replacements. Will that be enough? David Murphy analyzed it for us.

Todd broke down the Sixers roster player by player and took a wholesale look at how Chandler, Muscala and Landry Shamet will contribute.

>> READ MORE: Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum's friendship transcends individual, Sixers-Celtics rivalry

Around the league

The Sixers open in Boston tonight, and for their opponent, the goals are huge: NBA Finals or bust. But can the Celtics make it happen? Brad Stevens isn't sharing his prediction, but the expectations are even higher in Boston than they are in Philly.

What will it take for the Sixers to win the Eastern Conference? Murphy tells us it'll come down to Philly's big three.

There are no surprises when it comes to the favorite to win the NBA title. Ed Barkowitz has a preview of all 30 teams, plus predictions and Vegas odds.

Ready to put your money where your mouth is? Barkowitz gives us the inside scoop on which AC casino will give you the best odds for a Sixers championship. Dream big.