On Sunday night, the Sixers blew a 21-point first-half lead to the hosts at Madison Square Garden. The bench was horrific throughout and the starters fell victim to the same sloppy apathy down the stretch when the Sixers had a chance to secure a win. It was an ugly, self-inflicted loss.
This time, the Sixers are back home in South Philadelphia hoping to put an end to a now two-game losing streak, and they have plenty of room for improvement over their last meeting with the Knicks.
It will be critical for the Sixers to start and end the way they started Sunday night. The first stint of the starters went about as well as any fan could hope for the Sixers, and for a moment it looked like maybe they would be coasting to an easy win — then the bench came in. The bench allowed a 17-0 run from the Knicks to allow them back into the game. There was no defense, poor shooting from the floor, just about everything that could go wrong went wrong, and suddenly the Sixers held just a narrow lead. It was a perfect case study for why the Sixers need a reliable backup center (maybe in the buyout market...).
The most egregious part, however, came in the final frame. The Sixers still held a narrow lead before allowing a 10-0 run from the Knicks to lead them to their first real lead of the game. Then, the Sixers’ starters sort of gave up. No one was rebounding. Shooting was terrible. The Sixers looked completely apathetic and the Knicks were able to build their lead and snag a victory away from the Sixers.
In this rematch, the Sixers will have to look to Joel Embiid to tighten up his game compared to Sunday, where he had five turnovers and looked as if he decided he was done rebounding by the final frame, an apathy that spread like a contagion to the rest of the Sixers. As far as the bench, a lot of the pressure falls on the shoulders of young Tyrese Maxey, who is supposed to be taking on a sixth man role but has been struggling a bit as of late. The backup center position is still a disaster, but don’t expect that to have changed over the course of a week, especially with the Sixers sitting on their hands at the trade deadline.
Lineups will likely look the same as they did Sunday night for both teams. Neither team’s starting lineup looks much different — if at all — after the trade deadline, so that’s pretty much a non-factor in this one. The Knicks acquired Josh Hart on Wednesday from the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Sixers traded away Matisse Thybulle for Jalen McDaniels from the Charlotte Hornets. However, it’ unclear if they will be available for Friday night’s contest.
As far as injuries, the Knicks will be without Mitchell Robinson (right thumb surgery) and the Sixers have Joel Embiid again listed as questionable for left foot soreness. However, that designation has not led to him missing a game in the past week or so that he’s been labeled with such.
Offensive and defensive ratings
- The Sixers have the fifth-best offensive rating in the NBA, 115.2 points per 100 possessions.
- The Knicks rank ninth in the same category, 115 pts/100.
- The Sixers also rank sixth in defensive rating, allowing just 111.7 pts/100.
- The Knicks rank 15th, allowing 113.4 pts/100.
Key points from last matchup
- Sixers’ Embiid led all scoring with 31 points.
- Knicks’ Julius Randle led his squad with 24 points, nine boards, and seven assists.
- Knicks’ bench outscored the Sixers’ 37-16.
- Sixers shot just 3-for-16 from the floor in the crucial final frame.
The 34-19 Sixers are set to tip-off at the Wells Fargo Center against the 30-26 Knicks at 7 p.m. EST Friday night.
When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic