Didn’t we just do this?
Yes and no. The Sixers(2-1) are back in Philadelphia after losing to the 2-0 Knicks 100-84 at Madison Square Garden yesterday afternoon. No rest for the weary, though, as the Knicks have followed the Sixers home. They square off again at 7 tonight in the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers are hoping they can correct some of the mistakes that cost them yesterday’s game, specifically limiting turnovers (18 last game) and denying the 3-pointer. Last night the Knicks went 11-27 from deep, and while that’s only slightly above average, the amount of open looks is indicative of how well they spread the floor for most of the night.
The Sixers are also bound to struggle when Evan Turner and Nick Young shoot a combined 4 for 19 from the field. When you layer that on top of the fact that despite being in full “J.R. Smith mode”(read: 18 second isos followed by fadeaways), J.R. went 8-15 including 4-5 from three, you have a real problem.
Sure the Sixers can expect that the Knicks won’t go through the entire game getting only 10 fouls called on them, but they will have to figure out how to keep Carmelo Anthony from dominating the game the way he did on offense. Philadelphia got a classic example of why many people consider Carmelo Anthony the toughest cover in the NBA. He drove, he posted up, he moved well without the ball all to the tune of an efficient 27 points. The Sixers can do absolutely everything else right, but if Carmelo is free to disrupt a defense like that, the Knicks are going to get good looks.
So, what can Doug Collins’s crew do to prevent a different outcome than yesterday?
· Give Carmelo different defensive looks- Carmelo is a unique offensive talent because he is usually either faster or stronger than the person guarding him. He has no problem posting up a small guy or pulling a big guy away from the basket and then driving in on him. The Sixers need to scheme so that whoever is matched up against Carmelo has solid help defense to prevent getting abused. That means pinching the post if a smaller guy like Evan Turner is guarding him or rotating early if someone like Thad Young is guarding him. Defending Melo is a team effort.
· Protect the ball- The Knicks are going to lose the ball. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith alone are good for 5 or 6 turnovers a game. The Sixers cannot diminish that relative advantage by giving the ball up. Despite Jrue Holliday’s excellent game, he was clearly flustered by the Knicks’ defense—Jason Kidd’s ball pressure especially. The Knicks don’t play a particularly up-tempo game, so every extra possession they get is valuable.
Other than that, it’s the same stuff as yesterday. Push the tempo, defend the three, and try to attack the paint. The Sixers got blown out in a game they should have competed in, and they know that, so expect them to start game two with an edge that wasn’t there yesterday.
Tipoff is at 7pm.
Article provided by David Donnella
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