Brown: Sixers fell on familiar sword in loss
The Sixers (12-24) will try to snap their three-game losing skid when they face the division rival New York Knicks (13-22) for the first time this season.
Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (CSN) at the Wells Fargo Center.
Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:
1. Thing of the past
All of the good vibes from the Sixers’ six-game road trip seem to have disappeared after three consecutive losses.
The Sixers were handed that third consecutive defeat when they couldn’t control the Detroit Pistons on Friday. After roaring out of the blocks to score 63 points in the first half, the Sixers slowed down on the offensive end and were pushed around inside by the Pistons in a 114-104 loss.
More importantly, some bad old habits have reappeared for the Sixers lately. Their NBA-worst defense allowed a third straight team to score at least 111 points and they are giving up 117.0 points a game during this skid.
The Sixers have also started losing track of three-point shooters yet again. They allowed a Detroit team that came into Friday averaging just 6.1 threes a game to make 11. Teams are making an insane 47.6 percent of their threes against the Sixers over the last three games compared to just 24.1 percent during the Sixers’ previous four-game win streak.
They better pay attention to guys spotting up when they battle the red-hot Knicks, who rank seventh in the league with 8.7 made threes per game.
2. Blocked call
While the Sixers must keep an eye on the Knicks’ sharpshooters such as Carmelo Anthony, their defensive focus has to start with defending the paint.
The Sixers were dominated on the low block by the Pistons. They gave up 50 points in the paint, were out-rebounded by 20 and had 14 shots blocked.
The Sixers have been out-rebounded 173-120 over the last three games.
“I think their length bothered us the whole game,” Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after Friday’s loss (see story). “They had 25 offensive rebounds. We go into the game and you know that’s a problem. It’s going to be a problem. And it ended up a huge problem ... if you look at their offensive rebounds and their blocked shots, we struggled.”
The Knicks, who rank 29th in the NBA in rebounding and dead last in points in the paint, don’t appear to be much of a threat on the low block. However, they may make a concerted effort to get the ball inside after seeing the Sixers’ recent issues in that area.
3. Changing lanes
The Sixers will attempt to keep up with a Knicks squad that has won three in a row by running the depleted visitors into the ground.
That will start on the defensive end for the Sixers, who routinely jump in passing lanes and take chances on traps. Those gambles help the Sixers rate fourth in the NBA in steals with 9.0 a game.
On the flip side, the Knicks are extremely careful with the ball. They average a league-low 12.5 turnovers a game.
Whichever team is able to win the turnover battle should have an inside track to a victory.
Lavoy Allen (calf) is out for Saturday’s game.
Nerlens Noel (knee), Arnett Moultrie (ankle) and Jason Richardson (knee) are also out for the Sixers.
The Knicks have been hit hard by injuries.
Center Tyson Chandler (illness), forward Metta World Peace (knees) and point guard Pablo Prigioni (toe) are all out against the Sixers.
Point guard Beno Udrih (knee) and center Cole Aldrich (illness) are day to day.
5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost five of their last seven home games against the Knicks.
• The Sixers are 3-7 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season.
• It remains to be seen whether Knicks guard J.R. Smith will play against the Sixers. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year was benched in New York’s last game by head coach Mike Woodson after being fined $50,000 by the league for trying to untie an opponent’s shoe for a second time.
• Evan Turner averaged 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in four games against the Knicks last season.
• The Knicks are allowing just 85.7 points per game during their three-game win streak.
• Anthony has averaged 18.8 points on 35.7 percent shooting in his last six games in Philadelphia.