Despite the overwhelming attention to the new Ben Simmons rumors and recent COVID outbreak, the Sixers still have a basketball game to play today. Sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference with an 8-2 record and riding a six game winning streak heading into this matchup, the Sixers are arguably the hottest team in the NBA. They will face a Knicks team that is coming off a 126-109 loss to the Cavs last night, so look for the Sixers to take advantage of some tired legs.
New York Knicks:
The Knicks are currently in seventh place in the East with a 6-4 record on the season. They are led by Julius Randle who is averaging 21.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 5.8 assists so far this year. There has been a revival in the careers of both Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose in New York, who respectively add 12.7 and 13.1 points per game. RJ Barrett also deserves a ton of credit for his continued development as he has shown massive improvement this season. The Duke product is averaging a career-high 17.9 points at the best shooting percentage of his career early on in this season.
It was just two weeks ago when the Knicks and Sixers matched up for the first time this season. This was the game where the Sixers were outscored 39-16 in the second quarter and were not able to battle back from the deficit. Poor shooting allowed the game to get away from the Sixers and the Knicks ultimately won by a score of 112-99. The Sixers will looks to get back in the win column tonight against their Eastern Conference counterpart.
He was never expected to play tonight as this was a regularly scheduled rest night for Joel Embiid, but news became increasingly serious when it was reported that the superstar had entered COVID health and safety protocols.
Joel Embiid has become the fourth member of the Sixers to enter these health and safety protocols in the recent days and will miss a minimum of 10 days. In the short-term, prayers should be sent up for the health of Joel. While he is recovering, the Sixers will do their best to adjust their style and play without the big man. Expect a higher tempo pace of play and for a full embrace of the small-ball style of play to occur.
Who is Available?
With the Sixers still focusing on securing a win tonight, they will turn to their shortened bench for the answer. Here is the expected injury report assuming no more complications ensue:
Joel Embiid-OUT (H&S Protocols)
Tobias Harris-OUT (H&S Protocols)
Isaiah Joe- OUT (H&S Protocols)
Matisse Thybulle- OUT (H&S Protocols)
Ben Simmons- OUT (personal)
Grant Riller- OUT (meniscus tear)
Danny Green- Questionable (hamstring)
In positive news, it seems likely that Danny Green will make his return tonight after missing the previous three games. Green was a participant in shoot around this morning and seemed to hint that he would be active based on his instagram post today.
Andre Drummond is likely to get the start at center tonight and the Sixers will likely push the pace more than normal. Expect Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton to look to create their own shots more than usual and for the perimeter shooters to let it fly. The Sixers’ bench unit has been productive so far this season and continues to make their way into the center stage of the team. Even with all the injuries, the Sixers are only 1.5 point underdogs and the fight they have shown early on is tough to rule them out of any game. The game will tip off at 7:00 and is the first of three straight home games for the Sixers.
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