The Philadelphia 76ers wrap up their first weekend back from the all-star break in Sunday’s visit to play the 76ers vs Knicks game. Philly had won three of four heading into the layoff, including a huge 123-120 win over the Bucks that helped keep the 76ers keep a percentage point lead over Milwaukee for third place in the East.
Things are not going as well for the Knicks, losers of seven of their last eight before the All-Star weekend which has the blood-thirsty New York media demanding a scapegoat, most likely Tom Thibodeau now that the team has held on to disgruntled power forward Julius Randle at the trade deadline.
The New York Knicks will have some work to do down the stretch just to make the play-in tournament, currently the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference.
Another reason the 76ers want a huge win on Sunday is because the Knicks currently own a 2-0 advantage in the head-to-head series this season. You don’t want to go down 0-3 to this New York team that seems ready to waive the white flag on this year. These two squads also meet on Wednesday back in Philadelphia for a great NBA game.
Philadelphia has dropped the first two meetings with the Knicks this season, but they will look noticeably different in Sunday’s rematch with James Harden in the lineup after he was acquired from the Nets at the trade deadline.
Harden will have had time to work out some chemistry issues with the team in Friday’s contest against the Timberwolves, yet another disadvantage for the Knicks.
The Sixers will also look different on Sunday because Joel Embiid did not play in the Knicks’ 103-96 win back on November 8th. That being said, Andre Drummond did step up with a 25-rebound game, but he’s off to Brooklyn in the Harden trade (as is the super-productive Seth Curry).
The New York Knicks did a solid job of shutting down Embiid in the first game this year, holding him to 14 points and six rebounds as New York came out on top 112-99 in late October.
Do the Knicks have a counter for a possible big night from the new dynamic duo of Harden & Embiid playing in their second 76ers vs Knicks game together? Randle went into the break hot for New York, with consecutive 30+ point double-doubles as well as posting a 30/13/10 line against Oklahoma City on February 14th. Those were also both Knicks’ losses, though.
There may be some growing pains as Harden and Embiid learn to play together, but the Knicks have had aches all season long – at least since their 5-1 start to the year.
You know Embiid and Harden are going to want to put on a show at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, especially in the nationally televised game. The Knicks have gone just 13-17 at home this year while the 76ers are nine games above .500 in away games – time for Philadelphia to get one.