The New York Knicks hope for another boost from the crowd at Madison Square Garden before beginning a stretch loaded with road games. The Knicks, who are 15-5 at home and 2-10 on the road, host the reeling Philadelphia 76ers in a Christmas Day matchup on Monday.
Following its 52nd game on Christmas (22-29), New York plays 16 of its next 20 on the road, where its woes continued with a 104-101 setback at Detroit on Friday. “We just have to play our game,” center Enes Kanter told reporters. “Look at their roster, if they stay healthy, they’re going to do really good things. I think they’ve been way better than what they’ve been.” Kanter was likely referencing the Sixers’ issues without star center Joel Embiid, who returned from a three-game layoff but was limited to 14 points in 23 minutes in Saturday’s 102-86 loss to Toronto. Philadelphia, which hopes to have Embiid ready for a complete effort on Christmas, has dropped five in a row overall and is 1-7 when its big man sits.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN, NBCSN Philadelphia, MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE 76ERS (14-18): Embiid was still bothered by a sore lower back in Saturday’s loss and he picked up a technical foul as frustrations began to bubble up.”He wants to do so much more and he can’t,” coach Brett Brown told reporters of Embiid. “He just hasn’t practiced or, recently, played. There was a rhythm and a fluid side of his game that he was searching for.” Fellow youngster Ben Simmons was held to 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting in the loss, his first outing during the losing streak in which he shot below 50 percent.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (17-15): Although he needed 28 shots to get there, Kristaps Porzingis’ 29-point effort in Friday’s loss was a positive step for the 7-3 star, who missed two games due to a groin injury before going 0-for-11 from the floor in a win over the Boston Celtics on Thursday. The Knicks were 16-13 before last season’s Christmas Day game but a loss on the holiday to the Celtics kicked off a 1-10 swoon, and Porzingis is hoping for a better experience. “Of course, it’s always fun to play on Christmas Day,” Porzingis told the media. “It’s always a big game. I remember last year we were playing against Boston, it was really fun. We lost the game. But it was a good experience. My whole family is here again. They’re a young team that’s fun to watch and I think we’re the same way so it’s going to be entertaining.”
1. Sixers PF Dario Saric scored in double figures in 12 straight games after finishing in single digits in 10 of his first 19 contests.
2. Kanter is averaging 18 points and 13 rebounds while recording two straight double-doubles.
3. The teams split four meetings last season with the home team winning each time.
PREDICTION: Knicks 108, 76ers 103