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Game Preview: Knicks @ Sixers, 2/27/2020

No stars? Someone gonna earn their stripes.

Welcome to Philadelphia. The Sixers (36-23) have lost seven straight road games and while a bounce back game at home would be nice, they are missing Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. You might could say that those guys can effect change. Normally a team’s top two guys being out would be a bastion of hope, but this sort of situation often means you can just throw out your game plan. The Sixers will likely be galvanized, needing to work together to get the job done. Also they’re facing the Knicks (17-41), so someone is bound to have a career night. If it isn’t Furkan Korkmaz, surely it’s Shake Milton.

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Projected Starters

No Frank Ntilikina tonight because Elfrid Payton is back and Dennis Smith Jr. has officially shown signs of life. The Knicks despise playing Ntilikina. So, see you next year, Frank. I hope your Bucks uniform is a little more flattering than these M&M’s you’ve been wearing since the Knicks drafted you.

Philly was missing Norvel Pelle last night. He was feeling sicky poo. Maybe tonight he’ll be on the mend. If so, I’m sure he’ll send Julius Randle packing on some ill begotten foray into a clogged paint. Randle will up fake, power dribble and do his patented kick-flip lay up. Big Norv will spike it through the floorboard. Randle will grab it and get stripped, scrape away at it until he comes up with it once more, go up and get his entire shit slapped to smithereens. If Norvel is healthy that is. Otherwise same scenario, a little less dramatic, with some blunt force Kyle O’Quinn trauma.

Keys & Predictions

All this leads us to the question of who are these Knicks even up against tonight? Without Embiid the Sixers don’t have the enormous two way fulcrum to be tough when things get going. No Simmons means the tip of the spear might not penetrate your armor. Still, someone is gonna have to make plays. It’s easy to expect a big night from Tobias Harris, who should have no trouble absorbing some of the scoring load. Al Horford will pick and choose more spots. I’d wager that it’s the aforementioned Shake Milton who’s got the coaching staff most worried though.

Shake has a clean shooting stroke and some unexpected range. Then he has some uncanny playmaking instincts in pick and roll or off the bounce. This is exactly the guy that is going to kill Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. all night for going under, or— forgive me if you’ve never heard the term— dying on screens.

I can see it now, Shake settling in, lining it up, testing the wind, going live on periscope to answer your questions and taking some target practice while he makes a painting, as Payton tries to do a spin move underneath Kyle O’Quinn’s fire hydrant pick. Sure it looks like Elfrid’s working hard, but the truth of the matter is he’s bailing on the possession prematurely. Then Korkmaz comes in and lights up Kevin Knox and Allonzo Trier alternately. A carefree 31 points on 12 shots for Korkmaz. Game over early in the third.

Knicks by -17.

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