The Philadelphia 76ers kicked off their 2020-2021 season at home Wednesday night as they hosted the Wizards. Joel Embiid, along with their bench, truly carried the team to victory in this one as the starters watched a double-digit lead of their own dwindle. However, despite some really weak 2nd and 3rd quarter play, the Sixers overcame a double digit deficit to defeat the new-look Wizards 113-107.
Up next, the Philadelphia 76ers (1-0) will take on the New York Knicks (0-1). Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with radio coverage on 97.5 the Fantatic.
The Sixers are currently INSERT SPREAD favorites over the Knicks, with the over/under sitting at INSERT TOTAL.
Knicks’ New Faces:
During the offseason, the Knicks made plenty of moves to ensure that they could attempt to compete this season. Back in July, they hired veteran coach Tom Thibodeau. At the draft, they took former Dayton forward Obi Toppin, who had a weak NBA debut. The rookie shot from beyond the arc seven times, making three of them while also missing all five of his two-pointers. Fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley looked good as the secondary ball-handler in their opener, but suffered a hip pointer and is questionable for Saturday night.
Former Sixers and a Family Reunion
During the offseason, the Knicks made a plethora of free-agent signings as well. The Knicks brought in former Sixers Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel on one-year deals. Along with this, Doc Rivers’ son Austin Rivers was directed to choose the Knicks by his father, who did not want to coach him.
Along with these guys, second-year player RJ Barrett started his season off on the right note. The sophomore guard dropped 26 points against the Pacers Wednesday night, flashing his scoring ability. To start their opener, Thibodeau surrounded Barrett with Burks, Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock, and Mitchell Robinson.
Sixers’ Road Woes
Last season, it was no secret that the Sixers absolutely stunk outside of Wells Fargo Center. The team could show off an overly impressive 31-4 record at home, with an awful 12-26 record on the road. Saturday night’s game will be the Sixers’ first crack at being visitors, and they need to start the season off right against a much weaker opponent. On the flip side, the Knicks were fairly balanced in 2019-2020 in their home vs. road splits, as they won 11 and 10 games in those settings, respectively.
As we saw on Wednesday, the Sixers finally have a coach that can make adjustments. New coach Doc Rivers called two perfect plays out of a timeout, which helped the team solidify their win. Along with this, the Knicks are definitely the lesser team in this game. If the Sixers want to make it out of the first round this year, they have to turn over a new leaf. Winning on the road is a must. With a new coach and an easier-than-most game, this is a great opportunity for them to take that next step.
Anyone who had the opportunity to watch Wednesday’s game saw how dominant Embiid became. After noticing the team struggling, the big man put the team on his back, scoring over half of his 29 points in the second half. The 5th year center will have his way, as he has posted some of his best numbers against the Knicks. When looking at the rest of the Sixers’ starters as well, with the exception of Seth Curry, each of them has their top ten scoring averages against the Knicks as well.
Last season, the Sixers had a clean 4-0 sweep against the Knicks in the regular season. They had to rely on their defense, though, as they only averaged 98 points per game in those contests. With that poor shooting team last year, the Sixers averaged 11.3 three-pointers made in those games, which sits in their top ten among teams last season. Now that they have some sharpshooters and the Knicks’ lack of defense beyond the arc, the Sixers should have their way to get some offense flowing.
Given all of that information, along with the emergence of Shake Milton and the comfort of Tyrese Maxey, the Knicks have no business winning this game. The Sixers should control this game from the get-go. After watching Tobias Harris struggle in the opener, hopefully, it can serve as a get-right game for him, as well as another easy game to get the team chemistry up.
Sixers win, 107-99.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University