Things to Watch: Sixers versus Knicks
After a promising win on Wednesday to kick off the season, the Sixers are back in action. Next up is a matchup against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Here are three things to watch in the contest.
Hitting the road
This game kicks off the first road trip of the 2020-2021 campaign. As we know, the Sixers had their struggles last year when playing outside of Philadelphia. How they handle their first game on the road is a key thing to watch in this game.
Last season the Sixers posted a 12-26 record on the road. This poor play on the road would be a major factor to the Sixers ending the regular season as the sixth seed in the conference.
If the Sixers want to be a serious contender this year, they need to improve at winning on the road. Now that the team is under a new coaching staff, it will be interesting to see how this team improves when not playing in the Wells Fargo Center.
The Embiid + shooters lineup
Heading into the fourth quarter against the Wizards on Wednesday, the Sixers found themselves down double digits. Doc Rivers decided to switch things up after a shaky third quarter and roll out a lineup of Joel Embiid and four floor spacers.
This lineup thrived and Embiid almost single-handedly erased the deficit and swung the momentum back in the Sixers' favor. After seeing how well that type of lineup worked, how often it will be used is something to keep an eye on.
Despite the Knicks being deeper at the center position than the Wizards, this lineup should see the floor again in this game. Joel Embiid is arguably the most unguardable center in the NBA right now, teams are going to have a tough time slowing him down if they are forced to defend him on an island.
Defending on the perimeter
Outside of their two centers, the Knicks have a very perimeter-focused team. Although it is only a one-game sample size, it looks like this team is focusing on letting the ball fly from deep.
Defending well away from the basket is going to be a must if the Sixers want to walk away with a win. From RJ Barrett to former Sixer Alec Burks, the Knicks have multiple players who can put the ball on the floor and create.
Transition defense has been a weak area for the Sixers since the preseason, and this young Knicks team will likely come out and try to push the tempo. Making sure to communicate in transition and not allow the Knicks to get good looks on offense should be a major focus on defense.