Knicks are six and a half point underdogs against a banged-up 76ers team
The Knickerbockers will travel to Philadelphia tonight to take on the 76ers for their second game in two days. As things currently stand, Philly is undefeated against the Knicks this season and lead the series three games to none. However, tonight’s matchup will be very different than the last few times these teams faced off against one another. Both squads played and lost last night. New York fell to the Hornets in Charlotte 107-101 for their fifth straight loss. However, the bigger storyline came from Philly’s 108-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In that game, superstar big man Joel Embiid suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and was unable to return. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Embiid will not play against the Knicks tonight as sources say the all-star center will undergo further evaluation on his sprained left shoulder.
The Sixers will be without the services of their best players, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Embiid and Simmons have clearly established themselves as Philadelphia’s best players. Embiid leads the 76ers in points and rebounds while Simmons leads the team in assists and steals while also averaging 16.7 points per game. I am actually surprised that Philly is still favored in this game considering they just lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers whose 17-41 record is identical to New York’s record. Philly will have to rely on their other playmakers if they want to cover the six and a half point spread, but that may be a problem.
The main issue for Philly is that their other role players did not step up once Embiid left last night’s game. According to spotrac.com, Josh Richardson, Al Horford, and Tobias Harris are three of the four highest paid players on the Philadelphia roster, but you wouldn’t realize that if you watched their performance against the Cavaliers on Tuesday. The three of them went a combined 12-35 (34.3%) from the field and only recorded 30 total points (10 points per player). That is not going to be enough to beat one of the NBA’s worst teams, and it clearly wasn’t enough last night as the Sixers lost to a terrible Cavs team by 14 points on the road. I think Richardson, Harris, and Horford know they will have to play better now that both Embiid and Simmons gone, so I could see them upping their game tonight. Thankfully for the 76ers, they will be going up against a Knicks team that is in the middle of a bad slump, so they should be able to turn things around.
As I mentioned before, New York finds themselves in the middle of a five-game losing streak, but this is not unfamiliar territory for the Knicks. This slide marks the seventh time this season that the Knickerbockers have lost three or more consecutive games. This isn’t even the Knicks’ worst losing streak this season! New York did lose ten straight games form late November through early December. The difference this time is that New York has been competitive in these tough losses. They have been losing by an average of 9.6 points during this five game stretch, so they have managed to play teams close for the most part. I think the Knickerbockers recognize that the 76ers are reeling, and they will want to take advantage of this banged up team. I am confident the Knicks will be able to keep the game close all the way to the final buzzer.
When all is said and done, I still think the 76ers will come out on top tonight. It will not be because Philly will blow the Knicks away with their talented role players. The 76ers will win this game because they are playing at home. Philadelphia has been terrible on the road with a 9-21 record, but they are actually one of the best teams in the NBA when playing at home. Their 27-2 record in Philly is the best home record in the NBA this season. If this game were played in New York, I would actually be tempted to pick the Knicks to win. I believe New York will cover the spread, but I still think Philly will win this game because they just don’t have bad losses at home. In fact, they haven’t lost a home game since the middle of December. They have posted a 13-0 record at the Wells Fargo Center since their last home loss, and I think that record improves to 14-0 tonight. With that being said, New York will still manage to cover the six and a half point spread.