Knicks vs. Sixers 12 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: With Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries sidelined and the Knicks facing a small lineup, head coach Mike D’Antoni revamped the starting lineup prior to the matchup against Milwaukee. Jeremy Lin continued to start at point guard, J.R. Smith moved from the bench to the shooting guard spot, Landry Fields shifted to small forward, Carmelo Anthony suited up at power forward, and Amar’e Stoudemire anchored the middle at center. The team seemed on pace for a big blowout in the early stages by starting 11-for-11 from the floor but the Bucks battled back and eventually handed New York its fourth straight defeat. The news from Madison Square Garden Training Center on Saturday is Chandler will return to the floor after missing two games due to a strained hamstring. D’Antoni will go back to his original starting lineup of Lin, Fields, Anthony, Stoudemire, and Chandler with the hope of snapping the skid and improving on their 18-22 overall record.
Philadelphia: Doug Collins continues to make adjustments during a pivotal point in the season for the Sixers. Three games ago, Philadelphia’s head coach placed Evan Turner in the starting lineup at shooting guard next to Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala in the frontcourt. Over the last two games, the Sixers crushed Boston and Utah by a combined 45 points. The coaching move seems to have sparked Philly’s offense while helping the team keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. At 24-17, the Sixers sit in the No. 4 spot, one game over the Pacers and two games back from Orlando. Starting Sunday afternoon at the Garden, Philadelphia will play its next four of five games on the road with difficult matchups against the Knicks, Pacers, Heat, Bulls, and Celtics.
Last Time Out
New York: After scoring 31 fourth quarter points, the Knicks comeback effort just fell short in Milwaukee on Friday. New York suffered its fourth straight loss on the road in the 119-114 defeat.
Philadelphia: Turner posted 16 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists as the Sixers defeated the Jazz 104-91 to improve their home record to 16-8.
The Numbers Game
Despite the loss on Friday, the Knicks compiled some impressive numbers by scoring 60 points in the paint and 25 fast break points.
Match-up to Watch
Knicks Bench vs. Sixers Bench
After a couple of impressive games in which the Knicks bench combined for 50 and 45 points, the second unit is attempting to regain its productivity. Baron Davis helped contribute to a late game comeback in Milwaukee but Smith and Iman Shumpert struggled to find their offensive touch. When the bench mob is running at full force, New York is an extremely difficult team to defend. Davis, Smith, Steve Novak, Shumpert and Harrellson must provide a boost on both sides of the floor. Interesting enough, Philadelphia’s leading scorer comes off the bench as Lou Williams averages 15.9 points per game. While the Sixers are not extremely deep, Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Jodie Meeks give the team a nice change of pace.
What to Look For
Chandler’s return to the starting lineup should signify an improved defensive effort on Sunday. Over the last two games without the big man in the middle, the Knicks have surrendered 118 and 119 points in both losses. Meanwhile, New York’s offense will have to find a way to score against the league’s No. 1 team in the points allowed category. The Sixers also rank No. 5 in rebounds per game and No. 7 in assists per game.