In recent years, the Philadelphia 76ers have dominated the New York Knicks, but injuries make Thursday’s matchup all the more intriguing.
The New York Knicks have had little luck against the Philadelphia 76ers in recent years. In fact, you have to go all the way back to April of 2017 to find the last time the Knicks beat the Sixers.
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But the Knicks (17-41) are facing a much different Sixers (36-23) team this time around. Ben Simmons, who is undefeated against New York in 11 tries, is out with an impingement in his lower back. Joel Embiid, on the other hand, is day-to-day with a shoulder injury he suffered Wednesday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs smacked the Sixers around once Embiid left the floor. Embiid is undergoing an MRI on Thursday so it’s unlikely he’ll play. That means New York’s focus will shift to stopping Tobias Harris, Al Horford, and Josh Richardson.
Philly still has the advantage from a talent standpoint, but both teams are playing on a back-to-back. This game has the potential to devolve into ugly, ugly basketball. The Knicks are bringing a five-game losing streak to the City of Brotherly Love. Meanwhile, Philly is trying to figure out its identity without its two best players.
Knicks vs. Sixers Odds
Bets We Like With a Knicks Win
Knicks moneyline (+220)
The Sixers are laying 6.5 points here, but bettors who are looking for a decent payout should keep an eye on the moneyline odds. Philly is going to be forced to learn how to survive without Simmons and Embiid on the fly.
The Knicks are no stranger to dysfunction, but they should be coming into Thursday night mostly healthy. Frank Ntilikina is dealing with a groin injury that has plagued the French guard for the last two seasons, but his absence shouldn’t be enough to dissuade bettors from taking a chance on the Knicks.
Bets We Like With a Sixers Win
Sixers -6.5 and under 210 (+260)
Without Embiid and Simmons, Philly must fall back on its defensive identity. The three-man lineup of Harris, Horford, and Richardson is posting a defensive rating of 102.6 per NBA.com. For reference, the Milwaukee Bucks are leading the NBA with a defensive rating of 101.7.
If the Sixers are going to continue their 11-game winning streak against the Knicks, it will be because of their defense. It’s also worth noting that Philly possesses the best home record in the NBA (27-2). Parlaying the under with the Sixers giving 6.5 points could be profitable for bettors.
Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
RJ Barrett 19+ points (+165)
Sure, I know what you’re thinking. RJ Barrett has only reached 19 points one time in his last eight games, but hear me out.
The rookie was iced out of the offense on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton acted as if the rookie wasn’t even on the floor at times. If the Knicks’ coaching staff has any sense, they’ll look to change that against Philly.
Barrett’s development is paramount to New York’s future. Expect the Knicks to feature him in the offense early—and hopefully often.
Knicks vs. Sixers Prediction
There are a few factors that make this an unpredictable matchup. Significant injuries and both teams playing the second leg of a back-to-back should make bettors wary.
But with that said, even with injuries befalling Embiid and Simmons, it’s unwise to pick the Knicks against the Sixers. New York has looked inept during their current five-game losing streak and there’s little reason to believe they break through in the Wells Fargo Center.
Smart bettors will place their money on the Sixers on Thursday.
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