When I say this season has been taxing, boy, do I mean it. Another road loss last night, this time against a young Cleveland Cavaliers squad, has many questioning just how far this team can actually go in the playoffs.
Ben Simmons wasn’t available last night, and he won’t be for the foreseeable future due to a nerve impingement in his lower back suffered right after the All-Star Break. Now the bad news just keeps rolling in as Joel Embiid suffered a left shoulder sprain in the first quarter against the Cavaliers, an injury that seemed to cause Embiid a significant amount of discomfort as he left the court. He will undergo an MRI today and won’t be available against the Knicks. Luckily, backup center Norvel Pelle will suit up tonight and give the Sixers some much needed energy in the middle.
So, the Sixers are down their two best players and will now have to rely heavily on the trio of Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Against the Cavaliers, they looked no better than a Process-Era Sixers team, so this game in front of a rabid home crowd should be...interesting.
The Knicks come into this matchup with a 17-41 record, good for 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings. For as much as they’ve struggled, they always play up to their competition when matched up against the Sixers. The Sixers are 3-0 this year against New York, but every game has come down to the last few minutes. Without Embiid or Simmons available to play hero-ball tonight, the pesky Knicks might cause a bit more of a problem.
If the team has one thing going for them, it is their ability to step up at home. The Wells Fargo Center has been the safe haven of this up-and-down roster so far so the hope is that they can get back on track in front of the home crowd.
Philadelphia: Ben Simmons (out - back); Joel Embiid (out - shoulder)
New York: Frank Ntilikina (questionable - groin)