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Game Preview: Knicks @ Sixers, 3/16/2021

Segababa black sheep.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks Photo by Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images

Right back to business as the Knicks scoot over to Philadelphia for tonight’s matchup. Both teams will be missing their centers. The Knicks are starting to really feel the pressure of Mitchell Robinson being out. Nerlens Noel has handled the injury-promotion dutifully but the increased reliance on Noel giving meaningful contributions has started to wear him down a bit. Philly’s certainly missing Joel Embiid, a league MVP candidate, but the change is still fresh and the injury won’t last half as long. They’ll be back to full strength before they need to Tony Bradley to develop counters.

This game is also a new chance for old friends to come together. Hopefully Doc Rivers won’t be dunking on Tom Thibodeau tonight. But maybe Austin Rivers will want to stick around and see if there is a greener pasture in the spectrum. Oh well, forgone conclusions center on the obvious before they settle on the necessary. Time will tell for the Jazz’s kryptonite. Oh, what the future may hold. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Projected Starters

If anything holds to form, Immanuel Quickley should be getting another start tonight. This game, like last night’s, will also require some serious cross-matching.

Immanuel Quickley v Ben Simmons

Reggie Bullock v Seth Curry

RJ Barrett v Danny Green

Julius Randle v Tobias Harris

Nerlens Noel v Tony Bradley

In this group, give me Julius on Simmons and bump everybody up one slot. Quickley on Curry, Bullock on Green and Barrett on Harris. The Knicks might have to do a lot more decision making in transition than Philly as Ben Simmons might just mark whoever is giving the Sixers the most trouble. If that’s Quickley... so be it.

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Keys & Predictions

Last night the Knicks went small for the first time since Mike Woodson was pushed into it back in 2013. They nearly came back and snatched it too. I get a funny feeling that Thibs might be willing to give a shot again tonight. I’m not the biggest fan of Bullock and Alec Burks but they keep the floor spread a little wider out and if Julius Randle has an advantage, it would be nice to give him the entire key all to his self. If you spring open on the weak side, he still does an excellent job keeping the ball popping around.

Defensively stay attached to Seth Curry and run everyone off the line. Just because they don’t have Embiid doesn’t mean this team is a walkover. Ben Simmons can take over a game on both ends as well as anyone in the league when he has full control of the game and he’s a major part of the Sixers second ranked defense. For a team that will be tired and already has trouble scoring, that spells trouble. The question is: can New York use the bitterness of last night’s loss to fuel them in tonight’s contest?

Game is at 8:00, Knicks by -14

Allen Iverson Action Portrait Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Parting Shot

Let’s get ugly, beat them into a pulp. Last night the Knicks got so many crappy calls, particularly Frank Ntilikina who got a few phantom calls in the closing minutes as New York was tightening the gap. If you’re gonna get hit with nonsense, you might as well hit first. Come on, Knicks, don’t fall below .500!

Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images