The Sixers have hit a bit of a wall recently. Losers of 4 of their last 7 and worse, 3 of their last 4, so there is nothing better than hosting the Knicks. The Knicks have won 1 of their last 8 games and according to their own coach today, don’t even have an NBA team right now:
Fizdale laughing as he talk about his recent use of zone defense: "It’s not used as much in the NBA. It’s much more of a college defense. But I got a college team."— Steve Popper (@StevePopper) December 19, 2018
Recently the Knicks have seen impressive play from Kevin Knox, who is on pace for the December Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month:
Kevin Knox’s last 5 games— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) December 19, 2018
Let’s go, Rook pic.twitter.com/e0tlgMfgsk
They’ve also recently built up the confidence of Emmanuel Mudiay, who has played well lately.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is dealing with plantar fasciitis, and playing him on that when he is either A) in the Knicks long-term plan during a year they would benefit more from losing, or B) playing him on it if he isn’t in the plan and they want to trade him would be crazy, so you’d think he’ll likely sit out but...Knicks...
All of this makes the slim possibility of the Sixers losing tonight one of those “alarm bells” scenarios for us tomorrow on Twitter, even though it’s unlikely. But if somehow it does happen, prepare yourself for talking heads trading Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons and pronouncing The Process a failure. They’re just doing their jobs...
The last time these two teams met, the Sixers won 117-91, as New York did not even try to compete. Last season the Sixers swept the series 4-0, so they’ll try to make it 6 straight against the division “rival.”
Where the Sixers have struggled the most recently has been on the defensive end, particularly defending guards. With Markelle Fultz out of the lineup, rehabbing from Neurogenic Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the roster is thin on players who can cover what Head Coach Brett Brown calls “waterbug” guards, or point guards who can change direction quickly, penetrate and reap havoc on a defense by getting into the paint.
That will be easier this evening as the most dangerous offensive weapon in the back court, Trey Burke, is largely out of the rotation, leaving Frank Ntilikina who tends not to dominate offensively, and Emmanuel Mudiay, who isn’t a major shooting threat, to carry the load.
The player who most often hurts the Sixers is Enes Kanter, who gobbles up rebounds and puts up some of his largest totals on the year whenever he plays the Sixers; although the Sixers have been content to “let him get his” and stop other players.
Who: New York Knicks @ Philadelphia 76ers
When: 7:00 pm EST
Where: Philadelphia, PA, Wells Fargo Center
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic
Sixers: Markelle Fultz (out, shoulder), Zhaire Smith (out, foot), Justin Patton (out, foot)
Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (GTD foot) Mitchell Robinson (out, ankle) Allonzo Trier (out, hamstring)