The Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks meet with nothing but lottery balls to play for
It has been a nightmare season for the New York Knicks. No one could have predicted the futility that surrounded New York basketball for such a long time in the 2000’s would appear in a flash this season. Locking up superstar Carmelo Anthony to a long-term was supposed to signal stability for New York basketball. Instead, it signaled the start of a lengthy rebuilding process.
You don’t have to travel too far to find another team in a similar situation when it comes to rebuilding. The Philadelphia 76ers have been in rebuild mode for a while now, except they’re on the rebound, growing their roster in hopes of a special talent that can immediately elevate Philadelphia to “relevant” status.
These two teams are set to face off on January 21 at the Wells Fargo Center. This game doesn’t have the pizzazz that surrounds games that would include championship contenders but this game should be very important to these two teams.
New York and Philly already faced off on November 22 with the Knicks taking the first leg of the four game divisional series throughout the season. The final score was 91-83. New York was in a peculiar position at that time. By defeating the 76ers, there was a chance that would be the spark to get things going after starting 4-14. Instead, the Knicks went on a 10-game losing streak and followed with a 16-game losing streak. The Knicks ended their losing streak last night with a 99-92 victory over New Orleans.
Wednesday night’s matchup has all the makings of what will look like to be a terrible game. However, the matchup of the worst team in the NBA against the 3rd-worst team in the league does carry some weight. There are things on the line for both teams.
Simply put, the Knicks have been losing games. They just snapped a 16-game losing streak and have not looked anything close to an actual NBA team. After their game against Philadelphia, New York’s next game 10 games include seven opponents under .500. Obviously, Philadelphia is the best shot New York will have to notch a victory. Hypothetically, if the New York Knicks can’t win against the 29 others teams in the NBA, their next best chance at a victory will be on March 19 against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With their victory over New Orleans, there is a reasonable chance that New York can start their own mini-winning streak.
The other team in discussion, the Philadelphia 76ers, must have feelings of happiness to know that they are ahead of the Knicks in the standings. With two wins separating these two teams, the Wednesday night matchup can easily be the weight that tips the balance towards either team.
A victory for either team can heavily influence the results of the end of the season. A New York victory can pull them to 1-½ games behind Philadelphia. Wins have been scarce for these two teams, making every win that much more important. A New York victory also means the race for more ping-pong balls heat up. The Knicks, Sixers, and Timberwolves will all be players for the number one pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Duke C Jahlil Okafor is the heavy favorite to be the first player taken off the board.
This result would put these three teams nearly at the same pace to be finish the season tied.
On the contrary, a Philadelphia victory can completely derail New York’s season. Philly hasn’t been the worse team in the NBA. That dubious title goes to New York. Philly has been improving steadily throughout the season while New York struggles to even suit up a full squad.
New York can easily fall behind pace, putting them at an advantage for the first pick in the draft. Besides that, they would set a record for futility in New York Knicks history if they fail to win 21 games. This Knicks team can possibly be the worst team in NBA history.
Everything is on the line this matchup and the next two to follow. Well, everything that isn’t a championship: reputation, draft order, record, and of course division bragging rights. With teams such as Atlanta and Golden State running the table, we sometimes forget the teams struggling to even notch one victory. At least they have some pleasant storylines that come with them.