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Game Preview: Knicks vs 76ers- 10/26/21

Embiid or not Embiid, that is the question.

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Knicks on Tuesday. In this young season, Philly is already banged up. For Tuesday’s contest, the Sixers could be without their star from Cameroon.

WHEN LAST THEY MET

On March 21, 2021, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Knicks at MSG in overtime, 101-100. Shake Milton (21 points) and Tobias Harris (20) led the Sixers. Julius Randle (24 points) and Alec Burks (20) led the Knicks. The loss capped a rough stretch for the Knicks—and for Julius, in particular. Randle’s trey sent the game to overtime, but his loose-ball foul and missed jumper at the end sealed the loss. The irate Randle blamed the refs.

WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING IN PHLLY?

Why, what did you hear?

Last season was a success in Philadelphia, until it wasn’t. Fairly or not, Ben Simmons took the blame for a playoff series lost to the Atlanta Hawks. Late in Game 7, rather than dunk, Ben passed the ball. The ire of the Philly faithful rained down him. Kinda makes for a difficult workplace.

In the Philly’s off-season, outgoing faces included George Hill, Anthony Tolliver, and Dwight Howard. Incoming players included Andre Drummond and Georges Niang. Philly re-signed Danny Green and Furkan Korkmaz.

WHAT’S THE LATEST ON BEN SIMMONS?

Ben Simmons blah, blah, blah, blah. Doc Rivers blah, blah, blah, blah. Joel Embiid blah, blah, blah, blah. Daryl Morey blah, blah, blah, blah. Tomorrow’s forecast: more blah.

PROJECTIONS

Joel Embiid banged knees with Jonas Valančiūnas of the Pelicans last Wednesday. He went on to play 33 minutes against OKC, and 30 against the Nets. Still, Embiid is listed as questionable for Tuesday versus New York. I won’t make any big bets against him playing, but I will pray a rosary.

Back-up center Drummond (ankle sprain) is also questionable. Next on the depth chart is sophomore Paul Reed. It’s hard not to salivate over the prospect of Mitchell Robinson (7’, broke the scale) matched against Reed (6’9”, 210 lbs).

Reed has averaged about 7 minutes per game in 28 NBA contests. If Embiid and Drummond do sit, expect Doc Rivers to go small-ball and quietly miss his disgruntled Australian.

Point guard Tyrese Maxey can be a fun watch. The fearless sophomore drives full throttle to the basket and has benefited from Embiid screens so far this season. In three games, he has averaged 16 points, twice last year’s average. He is no threat from deep (29%), though, has a 46% eFG, and gets about 2 assists per game.

Back-up PG Milton (ankle sprain) and 3rd string Grant Riller are also listed as questionable. To spell Maxey, Korkmaz would be next up to run the point. The conditions are right for Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose to put on a show.

If SG Seth Curry gets hot, watch for him to take contested threes while a wide-open SF Danny Green waves futilely for the pass. Evan Fournier should get the Curry assignment. RJ Barrett should get Green. Both Knicks were animated farts against the Magic on Sunday. It would be great to see RJ get off to a strong start, especially since he should have a step on the older (by 13 years!) Green.

Long Island’s own Tobias Harris can pull up for three, shoot from the elbow, or drive the lane. On the other end, he can be “defense optional” at times. His hands will be full with Julius, who also put up ghastly numbers on Sunday but finished with 30.

Also off the bench for the Sixers, look for Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe.

In reserve for the Knicks, expect to see founding father Taj Gibson, Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Burks.

Nerlens. Noel. Is. Still. Out. Or, at least, 50/50.

PREDICTION

As they did on opening night, a motivated Knicks squad will show up to duke it out with a banged up division rival. In another thriller, Knicks win by a sliver.

Madison Square Garden. Tuesday, October 26, 2021. 7:30 PM. G-g-g-g-o Knicks.

And for you, Ben: