The Sixers are back on the confines of home court where they are undefeated thus far this season after a three-game roadie. The team lost to the Orlando Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime before getting a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. (Thank you for that birthday present, by the way. I couldn’t handle losing to the Cavs twice in a seven-day period.)
With a back-to-back on the way this weekend where the Sixers play the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat (which is Jimmy Butler’s return to Philadelphia), the rotations and resting decisions could be interesting. In an ideal world, the Sixers blow the Knicks out by the third quarter allowing extended rests for Joel Embiid, Al Horford, et al.
Two players to pay attention tonight are Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson. They’ve played decent the last few games.
Harris rebounded from a truly horrific 0-11 shooting night from three against the Cavaliers last week and has gone four of nine since. Against Cleveland on Sunday, he had 27 points on 14 shots. He’s still shooting a paltry 26% from three this season on just about four attempts per game, but Tobias still has to “load up, brotha” when he gets a look.
Can Tobias have back-to-back nice starts? We’ll see.
Josh Richardson, by contrast, has had a number of nice starts in the last week. Here are Richardson’s numbers in the last five games:
He’s also averaging just under one steal per game. (If he had one steal against Cleveland, it would’ve been exactly one steal per game.) Richardson is a cumulative plus/minus +12 in that stretch. Not bad, J-Rich. Very not bad considering the confusing start to the season you had.
Embiid is going to Embiid, and so is Simmons. Be mindful of the performances of the starting perimeter shooters.
The Knicks. Oh, boy. The Knicks. Where do I begin?
They’re 4-10 on the season. Only the Washington Wizards are worse. They’ve lost seven of their last ten games. Somehow, they’ve beaten the Dallas Mavericks twice in that ten-game stretch – perhaps just to stick it to former Knick Kristaps Porzingis. They’ve also lost to the Cavaliers and Bulls by 15+ points, so there’s a very wild pendulum swing to what kind of Knicks team is going to show up.
Rookie RJ Barrett is listed as probable for tonight with a sprained right thumb, and he’s been sort of a bright spot. Sort of. (Shrug). As bright spots go for the Knicks, you kind of have to look for anything. Barrett is averaging 16 and six so far in 14 starts shooting 37% from three but 50% from the line, so there’s that.
Marcus Morris – yes, THAT Marcus Morris – leads the Knicks in scoring (18.6 PPG/.563 TS%/.380 3PT%) which tells you all you need to know about the rest of New York’s offense. Speaking of players who have torched the Sixers in the past, can we put a lid on Bobby Portis before the game even starts. Remember when he dropped 38 on us coming off the bench last year when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls? Can we not allow that, again? That would be fantastic, guys.
The Knicks have a lot of players I like in a vacuum (Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith, Jr., Kevin Knox). My colleagues know my fondness for Allonzo Trier. Together with Marcus Morris, Julius Randle, and Bobby Portis, this roster makes zero sense.
The Sixers are currently favored by 12 at Rivers Casino, so this should be an easy enough win. Let’s just get out of this with no injuries and plenty of rest by the time the fourth quarter starts.
This is just another chance for Sixers fans to recycle a famous Ric Bucher tweet.
I'm ready to Trust The Process. The Knicks' process. Inducing young talent to lose year after year isn't a process, it's negligence. #76ers— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) November 22, 2015
Let’s not make this harder than it has to be.
By the way, Ric. The Knicks have had three winning seasons in the last 18 years and still haven’t had one since that Tweet. Can you hold this gigantic “L” for me? The weight of it is just too much. Just hold it for me until the end of time, real quick. Thanks.