Remember when earlier in the season there was so much talk about the resurgent New York Knicks and how Amar'e Stoudemire was bringing them back to prominence.
Well look who's knocking on New York's door for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. With Friday night's 100-98 win over the Knicks at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers crawled to within just two games of New York for that sixth spot, won for the sixth time in seven games and improved their home record to 16-8.
Today they'll have another chance to gain on the Knicks. Here are some keys to the game for the Sixers:
*Get the ball to Elton Brand: Sounds simple enough after the power forward torched the Knicks Friday night for 33 points and 16 rebounds. New York simply has no one to cover Brand, and they threw everyone they had at him on Friday.
*Make open shots: If the Sixers get the ball to Brand down low, there's little doubt the Knicks will send an extra body down on him. When that happens, the Sixers will need to get the ball to the open man, then make shots.
*Jump on the Knicks early. The Knicks have been reeling of late, losing 8 of their last 11. Should the Sixers jump out early, you think the Knicks faithful won't be a bit annoyed? That could play right into the Sixers' hands.
*Limit the non-Stoudemires: Amar'e Stoudemire will get his points and rebounds. There is hardly anyone in the league who can prevent that. The Sixers, though, have to limit the productions of Danilo Gallinari, Ray Felton, Wilson Chandler (who might be back in the starting lineup) and others to offset Stoudemire.
*One for one for Stoudemire: Doug Collins is a stat man through and through. One that he threw out before the Friday game was that he wanted Stoudemire's point total to be around the same as the numbers of shots he'd taken. That way, the Sixers coach said, you know he's not shooting a good percentage and not killing you at the foul line. Stoudemire scored 21 points but needed 19 shots to do it.
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