Sixers go for 7th straight win tonight at New York

Sixers Nikola Vucevic watches as Elton Brand boxes out Kings DeMarcus Cousins. (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)

There have been some wins during this Sixers six-game winning streak that have left fans wondering if the team is as good as appears or are the opponents that bad.

Tonight the Sixers will face a Knicks team at The Garden that many expected to be one of the elite of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks are 5-4, but have won three in a row after losing consecutive home games to the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats.

Carmelo Anthony (26.6 points) and Amar'e Stoudemire (21) lead the Knicks, who have struggled offensively, shooting just 42.3 percent from the floor for the season.

The Sixers have been exactly the opposite with their shooting lately, having made 56.6 percent in last night's blowout over the Sacramento Kings and 50 percent the night before in their win over Indiana.

The Sixers have won five of their first nine games by 20 or more points. It is the first time a team has done that since the 1969-70 New York Knicks. That team went on to win the NBA title.

Here are some things to look for in tonight's game:

*Will Spencer Hawes play? The center did not come back out on the court after halftime of the Sacramento win last night as his already aching back spasmed up at halftime. Coach Doug Collins said Hawes was going to make the trip last night and the team was hopeful he would play. If not, expect rookie Nik Vucevic to get his first NBA start.

*After Stoudemire and Anthony, who else scores for the Knicks? That seems to be a key. Everyone knows that the 2 stars will get their points. Collins knows it also, he just doesn't want them to get "efficient" points, meaning he wants their point totals to add up to about the same number as their shots taken. If that happens, Collins can live with it. The Sixers can't allow the likes of Tyson Chandler, Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert or Toney Douglas to go off on them.

*The play of Elton Brand. Brand had a breakout game last night, posting 21 ploints and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes. He usually takes his game up a notch when going against Stoudemire.

*How fresh will the Sixers be? This is the third game in three nights. The Sixers did get a reprieve last night with the blowout win, allowing Collins to rest most of his key players in the fourth quarter. Still, you have to expect some legs to be heavy. And an up-tempo team like the Knicks doesn't make it any easier.