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Sixers-Knicks Preview: Breaking the deadlock

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Could there be another buzzer-beater tonight?

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Two games, two buzzer-beaters.

Every Sixers-Knicks game this season has gone right down to the wire, leaving the possibility for more fireworks on Friday evening.

In both contests, the Knicks let a double-digit lead get away, and when the two teams first met in January, TJ McConnell made New York pay with his first career buzzer-beater. McConnell helped provide some more heroics during their rematch on Feb. 25 when he knocked down a three with 1:27 left to put the Sixers down just one. Two Jahlil Okafor jump hooks would eventually give the team the lead, but Carmelo Anthony refused to let another game slip away, and knocked down the game’s final basket with .3 seconds left to give New York a much needed win.

That game seemed to start a bit of a downward spiral for Philadelphia, who are now losers of three straight. They hung in with the Golden State Warriors on Monday until the fourth quarter before eventually losing by 11, despite holding them to just 20.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat is where the season officially collapsed. The Heat gave the Sixers their worst loss since Nov. 28 in a 125-98 rout, Miami’s second straight 20-plus point victory over Philadelphia.

If there are any positives to come out of the Sixers’ recent slide, it’s the reemergence of Richaun Holmes. Since the Nerlens Noel trade has allowed Holmes to expand his role on the team, he’s averaging 12.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 64.7 percent from the field. He’s not nearly as impactful as Noel was on the defensive end, but he’s showing the potential to be a solid backup to Joel Embiid.

Friday’s game could also mean the debut of power forward Justin Harper, who signed a 10-day contract with the Sixers yesterday. Philadelphia’s only power forwards right now are Dario Saric and Robert Covington, but Covington isn’t necessarily a natural fit there. It’s quite possible that Harper sees some backup minutes as the Sixers coaching staff tries to evaluate what they might have in the 27-year-old.

In injury news, the New York Knicks are expected to be without starting center Willy Hernangomez, who is dealing with an ankle injury. The Sixers also announced Gerald Henderson will miss the next two games with hip soreness.

Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.


Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic