Sixers-Knicks 5 things: Winnable game vs. skidding Knicks

Sixers-Knicks 5 things: Winnable game vs. skidding Knicks

The Sixers (10-25) face the Atlantic Division rival New York Knicks (17-21) on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./CSN, CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app).

Let’s take a closer look at the matchup:

1. Playoffs!?
The recent stretch of games has been kind to the Sixers, but good enough to start thinking playoffs?

If you’re Joel Embiid, the answer is yes. 

After putting up 20 points, five rebounds and four assists in the Sixers' 105-95 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, Embiid explained his belief that the Sixers can reach the postseason.

“I think we have a chance,” Embiid said. “We’ve been hot lately. ... We’re really figuring things out, we’re starting to learn how to win games.”

True. The Sixers have won three of their last four games and now sit 7½ games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

However, it may be a bit difficult to keep up this current run. Following Wednesday’s matchup with the Knicks, who have lost eight of their last nine, eight of the Sixers’ next nine games will be against teams with records above .500.

2. Reaching Rose
While the Sixers are thinking about the postseason, the slumping Knicks have been reduced to just figuring out where their players are at tip-off.

Point guard Derrick Rose missed the Knicks’ 110-96 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans at Madison Square Garden with the team unsure of his whereabouts. 

Rose rejoined the squad for practice on Tuesday and said he returned to his hometown of Chicago for family reasons. He spoke with Knicks officials and apologized to his teammates for going AWOL upon his return.

"It had nothing to do with the team or basketball," said Rose, who was fined by the Knicks. "That's the first time I ever felt like that emotionally and I had to be with my family."

Rose is expected to play on Wednesday night, but things haven’t exactly been going well for the veteran on the floor either. He’s averaging 14.8 points on 42.4 percent shooting from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range over the last five games. Those numbers have caused him to be glued to the bench by head coach Jeff Hornacek for some recent fourth quarters.

We’ll see if Rose can block out the distractions and get back to business against the Sixers.

3. Chasson chasing his dreams
Speaking of point guards expected to see action Wednesday, Chasson Randle will likely make his NBA debut for the Sixers.

Randle signed a 10-day contract with the Sixers. The Stanford product previously averaged 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 19 games for the D-League’s Westchester Knicks this season. 

“I just want to bring a lot of energy on both ends of the floor, be aggressive, and try to make plays out there and be a great teammate because we’ve got a lot of great guys here,” Randle said after his first practice. “I’ve only been here 24 hours, but I can just tell these guys are amazing.”

4. Injuries
Ben Simmons (foot) and Jerryd Bayless (wrist) are out for the Sixers.

Mindaugas Kuzminskas (illness) is a game-time decision for the Knicks.

5. This and that
• The Sixers have lost nine of their last 10 meetings with the Knicks.

• Kristaps Porzingis had 10 blocks in three games against the Sixers last season.

• Carmelo Anthony has averaged 23.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 30 career games against the Sixers.

T.J. McConnell (wrist) in a splint, doubtful to play for Sixers Wednesday

T.J. McConnell (wrist) in a splint, doubtful to play for Sixers Wednesday

Sixers point guard T.J. McConnell is doubtful for Wednesday's home game against the Raptors with a right wrist sprain.

McConnell was in a splint at practice Tuesday and said he would try to play but would leave it up to the medical staff.

McConnell is averaging 4.8 points and 5.4 assists in 38 games. The Sixers went 5-2 in the last seven games he started before his injury, and won 113-104 in Milwaukee without him. Sergio Rodriguez started at PG in McConnell's place and had 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Chasson Randle backed up the point and had 10 points and a pair of threes.

Big men update
Joel Embiid did not practice Tuesday and is listed as probable for Wednesday night when the Sixers (13-26) host the Raptors (27-13).

“Joel Embiid ... was a little bit, had the flu,” Brett Brown said.

Brown also added that he does not think Embiid's minutes limit will increase beyond 28 this season.

Jahlil Okafor (probable) did not participate in practice and received treatment. Brown said Okafor had soreness. Gerald Henderson is also probable and had an individualized workout Tuesday.

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).