Tonight, the Knicks travel to Philadelphia to take on the Sixers for the fourth and final time this season. Here’s what I’ll be watching for:
Winning streak: After Wednesday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks have now won a season-best seven consecutive games. They will look to extend that streak tonight and shouldn’t have much issue doing so–the Sixers, losers of 22 in a row, haven’t won since late-January.
The Knicks last played in Philly on January 11, when they earned a 102-92 win behind 21 points and five rebounds from Amar’e Stoudemire.
On the road again: Starting tonight, the Knicks play away from Madison Square Garden six times in their next seven games.
With very little margin for error (the Knicks trail the Hawks by four games for the East’s eighth and final playoff spot), it will be an integral stretch in New York’s season, and in determining whether or not the same team–or almost the same team, at least–that won 54 games a year ago will make the postseason this year. Luckily for the Knicks, they play just two teams (the Warriors and Suns) with records above .500 during the road trip.
Stoudemire on a roll: Throughout this month, Amar’e Stoudemire has–for the most part–looked like vintage STAT. Not only is he averaging 17.5 points per game (up 6.6 points from last month), but he’s also shooting 60 percent (up nearly 7 percent from last month) from the field. On Wednesday, he scored 21 key points and seemingly hit clutch shot after clutch shot to help lift the Knicks over the East-best Pacers.
Amar’e has also played particularly well against the Sixers this season. In two games played versus New York’s Atlantic Division rival, he’s averaging 22 points and 5.5 rebounds on 85 percent shooting.
Prediction: New York Knicks 108, Philadelphia 76ers 95
Losers of 22 straight, the Sixers have to be desperate for a win–but not as desperate as the Knicks. New York just can’t afford to lose any ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and I am simply unable to envision Carmelo Anthony allowing his team to lose this one.