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76ers vs Knicks Preview/Game Thread: It’s February and the games still matter!

Stop Taking Away Our Stars, BasketBa’al!

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

This season has been tough in terms of injuries. As 76ers fans, we know how debilitating losing a star can be for the outlook of the team and organization as a whole. Unfortunately, the New York Knicks are feeling that same pain as their unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis, is out for the rest of the year after tearing his left ACL last week. Regional rivals or not, it’s just a damn shame that injuries are sapping the league of some of its best talent.

While it will be some time before we see Porizingis out on the floor, the Knicks will have to move on. That said, on top of the injury bug taking a major bite, they find themselves hauling a 6 game losing streak into Philadelphia. I think it’s safe to say that playoff aspirations are probably in their rear view. But maybe that’s a good thing long-term, considering how much of a hodge-podge their roster and cap are. Tanking their way into a higher lottery pick while giving heavy minutes to guys like Frank Ntilikina and new arrival Emmanuel Mudiay might be a more fruitful endeavor to build a team around than throwing money away at the Joakim Noah’s of the world (seriously, what a horrid contract).

On the flip side, the 76ers are riding a 3 game winning streak and clutching onto the last playoff spot with the Pistons chasing close behind (2 games back as of today). What’s there to say about Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons that hasn’t been said already. Embiid, looking sprier as the year has gone on, hasn’t faced much resistance as of late. To be honest, his greatest deterrent may be just be his inexperience and/or carelessness (hello, turnovers!). His co-pilot, Simmons, has been getting snubbed from an All-Star status what seems like weekly. Thankfully, an Angry Ben Simmons has been out to prove the doubters wrong, stuffing the stat sheet and throwing down highlight after highlight. Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait.

With the playoffs in sight, the 76ers can’t afford to let up, especially against teams that they should beat (the Knicks are on a SEGABABA too!). Going into the All-Star break with a 5 game winning streak, 5 games over .500, would be amazing for an organization that’s just 2 years removed from only winning 10 games overall.

Passing Thoughts

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Knicks It

The Knicks played the Pacers on Sunday, battling back from a 20 point deficit before falling for good late in the fourth. For as much as they’ve struggled, they have quite a few players that seem to just feast on the 76ers. One player that epitomizes this is Enes Kanter. Last time they squared off on Christmas day, Kanter racked up a monsterous 31 points and 22 boards. Now that he’s a Knick, I’m also having PTSD of Mudiay draining a half court buzzer beater. I swear, Philly can bring the hero out of anyone... even the enemy!

From Italy With Love

We may get a first look at Marco Belinelli tonight! Would Brett just throw Belinelli some wing minutes without a second of practice with the team? I don’t see why not. All he’d be ask to do is take open shots and just play passable defense, so I wouldn’t put it past BB to get him some run given the right context in the game.

On the whole, while Belinelli isn’t all that amazing, it’s rare for pure wing shooters to be available on the buyout market. Considering the reported competition from other contenders, it’s cool that he chose Philadelphia (even if it’s due to $$$ and/or playing-time). He may or may not be individually better than what’s already available on the team, but just the addition of a wing player allows for more roster/rotational flexibility. For example, shifting Robert Covington to a stretch 4 role for a few minutes means less Trevor Booker. I digress.

Who to blame? It’s No One’s Fultz.

After Andrew Bynum and Joel Embiid, I thought I saw enough weirdness when it came to players sitting out from injury. And then came Markelle Fultz and it’s like Stephen King brought us a whole new genre of horror. Now that’s too harsh because by all accounts Markelle is a good kid that’s just in a bad predicament. Kyle Neubeck wrote an awesome piece that tried to get to the bottom of all the hoopla, from doctors to trainers, that I encourage you all to read. We may never really get the definitive answers due to the amount of voices and finger pointing, but I think it’s safe to say that we probably won’t seem him back anytime this year. Main thing for him is to get his mind, body and soul right and come back next year hopefully stronger and better from it.

Game Info:

  • Date: February 12, 2018
  • Time: 7:00 PM EST
  • Place: Wells Fargo Center
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Probable Starters:

  • Philadelphia: Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Joel Embiid
  • New York: Jarred Jack, Tim Hardaway Jr, Lance Thomas, Michael Beasley, Enes Kanter

Injury Report

  • Philadelphia: Markelle Fultz and Furkan Korkmaz are OUT.
  • New York: Kristaps Porzingis, Ron Baker, and Joakim Noah are OUT.

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