The Sixers head into New York City to take on the Knicks today at 1:00 after their huge win over the Timberwolves on Friday night. The new-look Sixers, featuring James Harden, seemed to be more in sync than people could have expected after adding Harden at the trade deadline. Usually, it takes a few games to get on the same page, but the Sixers seemed like they had been playing together, with Harden, for a long time. While some may say it was the Timberwolves, that was a good team that was overwhelmed by Harden, Joel Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey.
The Knicks, who had a rough run-up to the trade deadline that saw Kemba Walker and Julius Randle mentioned a lot, have been falling apart when their season, after last year, had shown so much promise. They’re already without guard Kemba Walker due to injury and recently lost Derrick Rose and promising Quentin Grimes, both out for at least the next two weeks. The bulk of the work is going to have to come from Julius Randle in hopes that he can play well enough to keep this game close. Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Alec Burks will be counted on to step up in the absence of the injured Knicks.
Young center Mitchell Robinson has the size, 7’0″ 240 lbs, to put a big body on Joel Embiid, but there’s really nothing he will be able to do against the MVP front-runner. It isn’t looking like it’s going to be a good day for the Knicks.
For the Sixers, after Friday night’s win, they’ll be looking to improve even more and show that it wasn’t just a fluke. James Harden had 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists in his Sixers debut. He could have had even more assists, but, as will be the case when playing with new teammates, some of the Sixers seemed unaware of just how special Harden’s vision and passing truly are. Passes came when they were unexpected, and they were on point, to the point where it was surprising to Embiid, Maxey, and Harris. This will improve as the team plays more together.
MVP front-runner Joel Embiid had 34 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists in the last game, which is more the norm than it is a surprise this season. Guard Tyrese Maxey, seeing more open looks and getting the ball when he was moving with Harden handling, put up 28 points and seemed like he couldn’t be touched. Maxey has speed that truly has been unmatched in Philly since the days of Allen Iverson. What Maxey also has, is fearlessness when driving the paint. Even guard Matisse Thybull had 11 points and 7 rebounds to go along with 3 steals. Thybulle seems to be a magnet for the ball. His defensive vision, speed, and ability to jump passes are near the top of the league among defenders.
The only negative from the Wolves game was that Tobias Harris had an off game, only contributing 6 points and 3 rebounds on 2-9 shooting. This shouldn’t and won’t be the norm for Harris as he’ll get more used to playing with Harden and should see more open looks and post points when figuring in the passes that Harden routinely makes.
While exciting as it’s the Knicks and Sixers, this game doesn’t seem to be anything more than a glorified practice for the Sixers. They play the Knicks again on Wednesday, then they hit a tough part of their schedule with games against the Cavaliers, Bulls, Heat, and Nets. That’s when the fun begins, but this game should be fun as the team starts to come together. It’s not going to be pretty for New York.
Final Score Prediction
Sixers – 119 | Knicks – 94
Going into today’s game, the money line for the Sixers is currently at -335 and seems to only be moving more and more in Philadelphia’s favor. The spread sits at -8 for the team at -110 odds. Both are interesting choices for today’s game and if you’re so inclined as to put some money on them, don’t forget to take advantage of BetRivers’ current offer for a 100% deposit match up to $250.