Every December, NBA fans from all over come together to share in the holiday tradition of kvetching about the Knicks playing on Christmas Day. And every year, Knick fans come together to remind the rest of the world, in a rainbow of colorful language, both spoken and body, that we truly and honestly do not care. This year, the Knicks are once again a part of that lucky third of the league who’ll spend some to all of Christmas away from their families. This year, the Knicks have something at stake beyond bragging rights, as they face off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers have won seven straight and are currently the fifth-seed in the East, two games ahead of the Knicks, who’ve dropped their last two — games that could have easily gone the other way and had them on a 10-game winning streak. Speaking of what might have been, Philadelphia will be shorthanded; their exciting young guard, Tyrese Maxey, is out while recovering from a small fracture in his left foot. Still, with James Harden rounding into form after a 20-point, 20-assist night, annual MVP-candidate Joel Embiid having a career year — and we’re talking a damn fine career to this point — and the Sixers boasting the league’s second-best defensive rating, what’s left after Maxey is plenty. That includes Tobias Harris, who lately can’t miss a shot, and P.J. Tucker, who has apparently taken a vow against taking any.
The Knicks take off for the Texas Triangle after the Christmas matinee and it’s a way better look hitting the road as winners of 9 of 11 than losers of four straight, which is where the orange and blue will be if they lose tomorrow. Jalen Brunson is in one of his rare rough patches since joining the Knicks, struggling with his shooting over the last two losses. Luckily RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, like Brunson, have been more nice than naughty this year, and with Quentin Grimes getting back into the swing that saw the Knicks starting five put up the best numbers in the NBA, this game should be a dramatic confrontation. Also, bet there’s some memorable exchange between Embiid and Mitchell Robinson. Those two are a fun compound and both are at the peak of their professional powers.
The Knicks will tip off against the 76ers at 12:00. All nationally televised NBA games can be watched on Sling TV.