Sixers set to face Knicks team coming off of a controversial loss


Joel Embiid (left knee bone bruise) was the only Sixer listed on Monday night’s official injury report. 

All of his teammates should be available Tuesday when the 27-12 Sixers play the 20-20 Knicks.

Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols), Mitchell Robinson (right hand surgery recovery) and Austin Rivers (personal reasons) are out for the Knicks, while Elfrid Payton (right hamstring strain) is doubtful

Here are the essentials for Tuesday's game:

  • When: 8 p.m. ET with Sixers Pregame Live at 7:15
  • Where: Wells Fargo Center 
  • Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia 
  • Live stream: and the MyTeams app 

And here are three storylines to watch: 

Sixers should have more gas in the tank 

The Knicks clawed back from an 18-point deficit Monday night in Brooklyn to make things very interesting down the stretch against the Nets. They couldn’t complete the comeback as Julius Randle was called for a controversial travel with New York looking to tie the game in the final seconds.

The Sixers were so dominant Sunday against the Spurs that no starter needed to appear in the fourth quarter. In contrast, Randle played 41 minutes Monday in a 33-point, 12-rebound, six-assist performance. Reggie Bullock played 42.

New York is 9-13 on the road, while the Sixers are 17-3 at Wells Fargo Center and will have approximately 3,100 fans there in attendance for the second time this season. There are plenty of factors working in the Sixers’ favor — at least on paper. 

Two top-tier defenses 

Tom Thibodeau and Doc Rivers obviously know each other well, with the Knicks head coach having served as Rivers’ lead defensive assistant during the Celtics’ 2008 championship season. His Knicks team is third in the NBA in defensive rating, per Cleaning the Glass, one spot above the Sixers. Thibodeau wants his teams to be hard-nosed and difficult to play against, and he looks to have players committed to that style in his first year leading New York. 

The Sixers’ offense has been tremendous during the team’s five-game winning streak, scoring 129.8 points per game on 54.2 percent shooting from the floor and 41.3 percent from beyond the arc. The team’s defensive success has perhaps flown a bit under the radar, though, outside of Matisse Thybulle seemingly creating a new highlight every 45 seconds or so. Since the beginning of March, the Sixers are No. 2 in defensive rating, according to Cleaning the Glass.

“I think guys are focused,” Rivers said. “They’re locked in. (Assistant coach Dan Burke is) an amazing defensive coach, and we stay on (the players). We stay on them about every possession being ready and down. Again, transition D, pick-and-roll D, weak-side help — that’s the three things we really have focused on, and they’re starting to see it. The more you’re successful at it, the more guys trust it, so I think that’s helped, as well.”

Embiid’s current place in franchise history 

Recently, we’ve focused mostly on Joel Embiid’s MVP-level season and how much his presence matters for the Sixers. With the injured center turning 27 years old today, though, it’s not a bad time to check in on where he stands on some all-time Sixers leaderboards through the first 240 games of his NBA career (all statistics from Basketball Reference): 

  • 24.7 points per game is No. 3 (behind Wilt Chamberlain and Allen Iverson)
  • 11.5 rebounds per game is No. 6
  • 59.5 true shooting percentage is No. 5
  • 33.6 usage rate is No. 1 
  • 25.7 player efficiency rating is No. 2 behind Chamberlain 
  • 24 made three-pointers away from passing Jrue Holiday for 10th-most as a Sixer

Ben Simmons was relieved Embiid avoided a major injury and seems on track to be healthy for important games late in the season and in the playoffs.

“I’ve just got to keep that same mentality I’ve had the first part of the season,” Simmons said. “Obviously, when I saw it, everyone’s devastated, but we’re fortunate it wasn’t anything crazier than what it is. So, we’re blessed in that sense but for us now, we’ve got to keep pushing forward and win these games, no matter who’s out. That’s an opportunity for someone to step forward and contribute.”

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