Monday’s Christmas day matinée game pitted two of the east’s up-and-coming teams against each other. One looked wonky and slow all day while the other made tough shots, got the lucky bounces and generally looked pretty decent throughout the game.
The highly-anticipated first meeting between the Knicks and Sixers this season gave us a matchup of unicorns that NBA fans had been clamoring for. Joel Embiid was phenomenal. His second game back from a multi-game absence, Embiid rebounded from a rusty 14-point, 8-rebound game to lead the way with 25 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks for Philadelphia, giving them their first win since December 13th.
ICYMI: Joel Embiid is back to doing what he does best pic.twitter.com/oxGtWEzQLA— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 25, 2017
The Sixers contested every shot the Knicks took to the basket and rarely allowed the Knicks to have open shots. When they did, New York’s shooters simply weren’t in rhythm and never managed to string together good offensive possessions.
Kristaps Porzingis struggled on offense, but was excellent defensively.
Joel Embiid attempts to summit Mountzingis— Kristaps Wobzingis (@World_Wide_Wob) December 25, 2017
Result: AVALANCHE ❄️ pic.twitter.com/UOjC3scnG6
He still looks a bit out of his offensive rhythm. He did manage to score 22 points, but didn’t look comfortable shooting the ball.
It took until 7:31 left in the third quarter for the Knicks to make a three-pointer. Meanwhile, the Sixers were solid from behind the arc which made up for uncharacteristically low-scoring games by Dario Saric and Ben Simmons. J.J Redick’s 24-point game was annoying as hell and P&Ter TruBluYanksToo was quick to remind us how little we like T.J McConnell.
The Knicks did manage to tie the game with a few minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but some timely rebounding by the Sixers and some missed free throws by New York sealed the deal for Philly. Oh, and the Embiid dagger.
Embiid trying to put the Knicks away pic.twitter.com/s6AyU8J8In— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 25, 2017
This game wasn’t without positives, though. First of all, this matchup is going to be very fun for a very long time. Secondly, Frank Ntilikina was driving to the basket with authority and we can all hope to see much more of that moving forward.
Let’s get to some notes and then I’ll let y’all get to your food!
— Enes Kanter: He led all scorers with 31 points and picked up a game-high 22 rebounds. He has a motor that never stops and on offence and overall had a pretty good game.
He drew a tough assignment in guarding Embiid, but did alright today.
Kanter and Porzingis have really worked on their relative positioning. Fluid switches here and Embiid ends with travel pic.twitter.com/629GLP8cg3— Knicks Film School (@KnickFilmSchool) December 25, 2017
Nice one, Enes!
— Courtney Lee: Lee scored 22 points on 8-13 from the field and 2-4 from the behind the arc. He played very good defense and continues to be one of the Knicks’ most consistently good players this season. He should probably take more than 4 three-pointers, though.
— Frank Ntilikina: He played big minutes and played...not great. He scored 4 points on 8 shots, had 3 assists and 2 rebounds. But there were some good things that we should talk about. Defensively, he was fine as he always is. Offensively, he attacked the bucket in a way that I don’t think he would have even two weeks ago.
Exhibit B: (Now, look. I know he got blocked or whatever but that drive was very good)
These things are just reminders that Franky Smokes is probably a year away from being in a slightly hyperbolic upper echelon of two-way NBA point guards. Joyeux Noël, Frank!
— Kristaps Porzingis: A very bland 22 points and 7 rebounds from KP. He had a number of highlight blocks which was cool, but was considerably out-unicorned by Joel Embiid. Something might still be bugging him from that ankle injury a few weeks ago. Or maybe he’s just slumping. It happens, he’ll be fine.
This was fun, though:
Alright! I’ll let y’all get back to your holidays. This game was frustrating, even by Knicks’ fans’ standards but at least we have the Bulls up next on Wednesday night! My relative wants you all to know that he KNEW the Sixers we’re going to win this game, so at least somebody’s happy with the result!
From all of us at P&T, we wish you all the happiest of holidays! Full of good food, fun times and maybe a lil stake-free basketball to digest the loss!