The big(gest) news on the NBA trading front doesn't intimately impact the 76ers, but if you look at the standings, you'll see that the New York Knicks are right above the Sixers in the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Now, with last night's news that Carmelo Anthony/Chauncey Billups/et al are heading to New York in exchange for Gallo/Felton/Chandler/Mozgov/et al -- things look a little different. And that impacts the Sixers in a significant way. Especially considering the seventh and eighth spots in the East come gift wrapped with a first-round matchup (likely, anyway) against either the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat. Yikes.
Right now, the Sixers are seventh in the Eastern Conference with a record of 27-29. The Knicks are sixth with a record of 28-26. The Sixers have set themselves up nicely coming out of the all-star break. With only 26 games remaining, the Sixers play 15 at home and 11 on the road. The Sixers are 17-9 at the Wells Fargo Center, 10-20 on the road, so those additional four home games could become crucial in the standings.
Today at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Sixers held their second practice since returning from the break and final practice before Wednesday night's home game against the Washington Wizards. Last night, the topic was how well prepared the team returned and the goals for the second half of the season. Today, the topic was, at least to some extent, the impact of Carmelo on the Knicks.
"Obviously, they picked up one of the best players in the NBA," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "I’ve always felt that Carmelo was one of the toughest matchups in the NBA. You put a small forward on him and he’s so big and strong. And you put a bigger player on him and he’s so quick ... He gives them flexibility. I think you’ll see Mike [D'Antoni] play Amar’e at center sometimes and Carmelo as a four."
Added Collins: "They’ve definitely added talent to their team. Now, they had to give up some things, but they get back one of the best players in the NBA and now it’s up to Mike to see how quickly he can get it all together. New York has to be excited they’ve added another star to their franchise. You have 55 points in the bank before you start every game."
Collins says he hasn't given much thought about how the 'Melo trade will impact his team's playoff run. He knows his guys have the playoffs in their sights and that's pretty much all he's worried about. He says the Sixers' young core is getting better and better and better and that they'll "see how it plays out in the last 26 games."
The Sixers open the post-break schedule against the Wizards, the Detroit Pistons, and then at the Cleveland Cavaliers. They should be 30-29 after this three-game stretch.
Given the tough start endured by the Miami Heat, who similarly were forced to mesh superstars, Sixers combo guard Lou Williams is hopeful that it will take the Knicks some time to figure out how they want to play/how they can play together.
"I mean, you can’t really discount the caliber of players they got out of the deal," Williams said. "So, on paper, it’s going to be difficult. But who knows what happens once they put that team together. Hopefully, in my eyes, I hope they get off to a rocky start. We can continue to roll and we’ll see what happens."
If you want to see Williams' interview from after today's practice, that should be embedded below. Also, if you'd like to follow on Twitter, you can do that here: Deep Sixer.
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