Sixers Look to Split Home-and-Home Series Against the Knicks
The 76ers hope to earn an early season split with Atlantic Division rival New York tonight when the teams tussle for the second straight day.
The Knicks, 2-0 for the first time since 1999, travel to Philadelphia for the second half of a home-and-home clash.
On Sunday afternoon, New York held home court and buried the Sixers with a barrage of three-point baskets. The Knicks connected on 11 shots from beyond the arc en route to a 100-84 victory.
The quick turnaround to tonight’s Round 2 means Coach Doug Collins doesn’t have much time to make adjustments.
Philadelphia matched its scoring output of its season-opening victory over visiting Denver, struggling to maintain offensive momentum throughout its first road test of the season. The team’s defense was able to deny Denver open looks throughout the opener, but that wasn’t the case Sunday against a substantially better Knicks offensive attack.
Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 27 points, days after agreeing to a four-year contract
extension with Philadelphia. He made five of six three-point attempts and dished out a
game-high seven assists, but his six turnovers provided a blemish on an otherwise impressive performance.
Holiday lost backcourt mate Jason Richardson early in the contest. The Sixers starting shooting guard suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter when he stepped on the foot of a baseline photographer.
Richardson will miss tonight’s matchup as a result of the injury. His absence likely means increased minutes for newcomer Nick Young, who struggle Sunday.
The first-year Sixer scored five points on 2-of-10 shooting. Young will have an opportunity to rebound tonight in an expanded role.
Dorell Wright, acquired from Golden State in an offseason trade, should also carry more of a load tonight as he already appears comfortable in his new setting with Philadelphia. The 6-foot-9 swingman has totaled 25 points and 16 rebounds through two contests.
Evan Turner remains a work in progress offensively, as he is shooting just 25 percent from the field. The second overall selection of the 2010 NBA Draft hasn’t exactly made fans forget about Andre Iguadala.
Although he continues to display elite rebounding skills – he pulled down a game-high 11 boards Sunday – the Sixers lineup won’t gain sustained offensive rhythm until Turner starts consistently performs like a premier player along the perimeter.
He’ll also be leaned on to provide defensive support against Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who scored 27 points Sunday. He was the only member of New York’s starting lineup to score more than a dozen points in the victory.
When Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith checks into the contest tonight, you can be sure the Sixers will take a heavy interest. Smith torched Philadelphia with four three-point field goals Sunday, when he came off the bench to score 20 points and grab nine rebounds.
Smith has always been a hit-or-miss guy, who has a penchant for hoisting up long-distance shots without hesitation. When the mercurial scorer is hitting threes, it provides the Knicks with an explosive scoring option.
Both the Knicks and Sixers are missing all-star post players due to knee issues. Philadelphia’s Andrew Bynum remains on track to make his team debut in the near future, while New York’s Amar'e Stoudemire reportedly could be sidelined for up to two months.
A home-and-home sweep would give New York its best start in 13 years and provide an early season division statement. Philadelphia hopes to improve on a subpar showing in Manhattan and move to 2-1 on the season.
Following tonight’s game, the Sixers depart for a three-game road trip. Philadelphia travels to New Orleans, Boston and Toronto before returning home.