It’s a clash of Atlantic Division rivals today as the New York Knicks travel to the Wells Fargo Center to take on the Philadelphia Sixers, who are currently holding onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (7pm ET Monday).
Right now, the Knicks are on the outside looking in when it comes to postseason positioning. Currently seven games back of Philadelphia for the eighth seed, New York has some work to do to get back into the playoff picture. Their road won’t be easy, but with three games remaining against the Sixers, the Knicks could still sneak into the postseason with a strong finish to the regular season.
For the Sixers on the other hand, the Knicks aren’t the only team knocking on their door for that final seed. Both the Charlotte Hornets (6.5 games back) and Detroit Pistons (two games back), are well within striking distance.
The season is winding down and both the Sixers and Knicks need to continue to get into the win column if they hope to keep playing into the spring and early summer.
Before getting to our New York Knicks vs Philadelphia Sixers predictions this preview will take a look back at the history of the rivalry between the two sides and the relevant factors that may decide the course of this matchup.
In 2017, the Sixers found themselves scheduled with a huge nationally televised game on Christmas Day, for the first time in over a decade. This was a big step forward for the young team, which has gotten better as the year has gone on. Winning the game, especially in the dominant fashion they did, was an even bigger step.
It’s not that the game was a blowout by any means as the final score saw the Sixers win by just seven points. It was the fact that the team was at almost its full complement of health for one of just a handful of times in the early season. Joel Embiid, who is headed to the NBA All-Star Game for the first time as a starter, played 34 minutes and had a line of 25 points and 16 rebounds, the latter of which is tied for a season high. Embiid wasn’t the only one who played well however as JJ Redick, another player who had missed time due to injury, returned to have one of his best games this season, scoring 24 points and going a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Redick and Embiid led the way for Philadelphia, and combined for an incredible +50 plus/minus, but the Sixers bench was big as well. TJ McConnell scored 15 and Trevor Booker had five rebounds and a +11.
New York was led by Enes Kanter who scored a season-high 31 and a monster 22 rebounds, also a season high. For Kanter, 11 of those boards were off of the offensive glass, which is an incredible number to see. He was joined by Kristaps Porzingis and Courtney Lee as the Knicks other 20+ point scorers.
While Philadelphia did manage to get the win, in typical Sixers fashion, it wasn’t without its fair share of drama. Philadelphia, as they are prone to do, committed a lot of turnovers in the closing minutes, giving New York opportunities to get back into the game. That is definitely something to keep an eye on in the rematch this Monday night. Because if New York can create turnovers and scoring opportunities that go with them, they should be able to see a reverse of fortunes this time around.
Our Preview’s New York Knicks at Philadelphia Sixers Picks & Betting Predictions
The Knicks and Sixers have seemingly gone in opposite directions ever since their first meeting. Philadelphia has climbed into the playoffs with the eighth seed after falling out following a December slump. Meanwhile, New York has struggled as of late, losing their last six which is currently tied with the Memphis Grizzlies for the longest active losing streak in the NBA. Contrasting that, the Sixers have won each of their last three.
The biggest thing for Philadelphia has been staying healthy. With the exception of first overall pick Markelle Fultz, who has yet to suit up for the team in what would be his rookie season, Philadelphia has kept all of their top names on the court. The biggest piece of this puzzle is Joel Embiid, who has not only stayed healthy, but who has started finally playing back-to-back games for the Sixers. This is big and it allows Philadelphia to have its best player on the court as much as possible.
With Embiid on the court, Philadelphia is a much better team, as showed in that Christmas game against the Knicks and as the team hopes will show today.
Philadelphia enters this game as big 12-point favorites which is a huge margin and one that even at home, seems unlikely they’ll hit. Given the Sixers propensity to take huge early leads only to give them up by the start of the fourth quarter, it’s hard to believe the team will win this game by double digits. So, in our bid to outwit the best of the legal offshore bookies, these are the preview’s New York Knicks at Philadelphia Sixers predictions: