Sixers coach Doug Collins likes to talk about hockey assists when describing a good perimeter game that leads to open looks. He witnessed plenty of them on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, only it wasn't his team that was moving the ball so well, it was the Knicks.
New York nailed 11 of their 27 three pointers, most of them wide open looks due to making the extra pass. Many times, when the ball went down low to Carmelo Anthony, the Sixers had to double-team to help Thaddeus Young. When that happened the ball was kicked out and swung quickly until an open jumper became a wide-open jumper.
The Sixers will also be shorthanded tonight as starting shooting guard Jason Richardson will be sidelined after tripping over a camera man Sunday and sprained his left ankle. There was no shootaround this morning so I didn't get word from Collins who would start for Richardson. Sunday Nick Young replaced Richardson, but tonight Collins could move Evan Turner to the two spot and insert Dorell Wright into the starting lineup.
While Anthony was very good on Sunday with 27 points and the Knicks offense seem to be in mid-season form, the Sixers were lethargic, non-aggressive and looked as rusty as they have since training camp began at the beginning of October.
Expect to see more from the bench tonight, even though Wright or N. Young has to be elevated to starter. Spencer Hawes played well again Sunday, but Collins only used him for 15 minutes. In a game that the Sixers just didn't seem to have a chance of winning, Collins decided to give some of his bigger-minute players a rest. Tonight will be the second of five games in seven days for the team.
Expect Collins to take a look at different players on Anthony at times tonight - perhaps Wright or Turner along with T. Young. Or maybe allow Anthony to play more one-on-one instead of sending another defender down to help with him. That would negate some of the open outside shooting that was so common on Sunday.
Offensively the Sixers have to do a better job of moving the ball themselves. Sunday it was all Jrue Holiday (27 points) and Thaddeus Young (16), mostly scoring on broken plays or one-on-one breakdowns. In the halfcourt there has to be better execution. They'll also need to run more, and in order to do that they'll have to keep New York's shooting percentage well below the 51 percent it shot on Sunday. The Sixers need to run and they can't do that as long as they're taking the ball out of the Knicks basket.