No one predicted that the Sixers would be doing so well to start the season, and the Knicks are performing under expectations thus far.
Will things change tonight and roles get reversed?
Keep reading to find out.
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Watch: MSG, NBA League Pass
Listen: 610 AM WIP, Philadelphia, 1050 AM ESPN, New York
Betting Line: Knicks -4
No major injuries for either team to report
What's At Stake?
The Philadelphia 76ers are surprisingly the class of the Atlantic Division, and the Knicks are right on their heels, currently sitting two games back but looking to gain ground.
What better time for them to accomplish that goal than tonight at the Garden?
This is the first of three times they will be meeting in 2011, and it is going to be an important matchup, as it certainly looks like these two could end up meeting in the playoffs.
What They're Saying
Howard Beck of The New York Times wrote a great piece on how Iman Shumpert has become a crowd favorite and a catalyst to the Knicks’ success.
The adoration for Shumpert, a rookie from Georgia Tech, is real and requited, the roars reciprocated with a crisp pass, a timely steal, a breakaway dunk. In just five games, Shumpert has become the Knicks’ best guard, their most valued energy source and, in effect, their fourth star.
Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News has high praise for the Sixers point guard who is leading their youthful charge to the top of the conference.
In point guard Jrue Holiday, you have a cool, smooth, 21-year-old who is quickly climbing the ranks of top point guards in the NBA. He has shown an ability to score, dish, defend and carry the team at times - as evident by his 14 fourth-quarter points in Wednesday's come-from-behind win at New Orleans.
76ers Player to Watch: Spencer Hawes
No. 00 seemed like a lost cause, a draft bust and on his way out of the league last year after being a No. 10 overall selection in 2007.
Now he is averaging 11.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, and almost three assists and two blocks per game.
See if he can keep up his rejuvenation tonight against the Knicks.
Knicks Player to Watch: Everyone but Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony
Who will shoulder the scoring load if the Sixers lock these two beasts down?
While that is much easier said than done, it’s a goal all teams have when facing New York, and eventually, someone will be successful.
Those are the nights one of the other members of the roster needs to step up.
Key Matchup: Attrition
The Sixers are playing their third game in three nights, while the Knicks have had a night off and are healthy and ready to go.
Will the tired legs of Philly give out and allow New York to run all over them?
Knicks 102, 76ers 99