Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks Preview (12/25/22): Prediction, Starting Lineups, Odds

To kick off the Christmas NBA slate, the Philadelphia 76ers (19-12) face the New York Knicks (18-15). Tyrese Maxey (22.9 PPG) remains out for the 76ers, while the Knicks will be without Obi Toppin (7.7 PPG).

Can Philadelphia extend their seven-game winning streak? Odds, predictions, key matchups, and starting lineups are below.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks Betting Odds

Despite the 76ers recent dominance, they enter this matchup as only a slight favorite. The spread is -1.5 76ers with their moneyline at -118. New York’s moneyline can be found at +110, which means they must win 48% of the time to be profitable long-term. The over under is the lowest total of all the Christmas games.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks Prediction

I expect this to be a close game, and I’m taking Knicks +2 here.

Firstly, Maxey’s continued absence is a huge blow to Philadelphia’s offense. He’s an excellent off-ball threat who pulls defenders away from the paint, and Maxey also thrives as a ball handler who can create his own shot off the dribble. On the other hand, Toppin is a solid but non-essential piece, so the Knicks clearly hold the injury advantage.

The 76ers offensive foundation is built on spot up shooting and post ups. Joel Embiid commands enormous defensive attention, and defenses must also contend with a number of lethal three-point shooters. As a result, Philadelphia forces opponents to pick their poison: allow Embiid to dominate in the paint or concede good looks from deep. Considering Embiid’s skill and the fact that the 76ers rank 1st in catch and shoot percentage at a 40.3 3PT%, it’s often enough to win games.

However, the Knicks are well-suited towards slowing down this formula and encouraging Philadelphia to turn towards other methods, such as a plethora of Tobias Harris or James Harden off the dribble shots. Embiid will without a doubt seal his man and succeed in vying for position; however, a center that excels vertically can remove some of this advantage and routinely contest the incoming hook shot or fadeaway. Mitchell Robinson is length and verticality itself, as the hyper-athletic rim protector has an enormous block radius. Embiid is too skilled to be shut down, but Robinson can make him work for everything and hopefully limit his production.

Meanwhile, Quentin Grimes is emerging as an elite perimeter defender. Per BBall Index’s respected defensive metrics, Grimes ranks 6th in on-ball defense and 4th in ball screen navigation. During their recent eight game winning streak, the Knicks slashed their opponent open and wide open 3PA from 35 per 100 possessions to 30 in large part because of Grimes’ relentless pressure and swift rotations. How do I envision Grimes here? He can utilize his 6’8” wingspan to blow up the Harden pick and rolls, neutralize passing lanes, and hound spot up shooters. While Grimes and Robinson lead the charge, RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson are both having a rejuvenated defensive season. Overall, these pieces have led the Knicks to rank 9th in Defensive Rating, 9th in spot up defense and 8th in pick and roll ball handler defense. If Mitchell Robinson defends without fouling, then New York has a good chance to limit Philadelphia’s offense.

On the other side, New York is witnessing RJ Barrett’s potential ascension to the next level. He’s coming off a 44-point performance against the Bulls, and Barrett is at 27.3 PPG over the last eight games on a superb 51/47/73 shooting split. Randle and Brunson are always good for 40-60 points, Grimes is a sharpshooter, and Robinson bends defenses through the lob-threat. New York also brings microwave scorer Quickley and paint threat Hartenstein off the bench to provide some juice when the starters rest. However, this sort of Barrett production is essential for the Knicks offense to be categorized as elite.

Overall, I expect this game to be a bitter fight down to the wire because of how talented the offensive trio of Embiid, Harden, and Harris are. I also believe the Knicks have the tools to beat this very good 76ers team, and home-court advantage should be greater than usual considering the Christmas atmosphere.

Betting Trends

  • 76ers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall
  • 76ers are 18-12-1 ATS this season, the 4th best cover percentage
  • Knicks are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games overall
  • Under is 6-2 in the last 8 meetings

Key Matchups

Which team will win the key matchups? Check out below for these vital battles.

Mitchell Robinson Fouls

Hartenstein is overqualified as a backup center, and Sims performs his role well. I’m completely skeptical of their ability to pose any semblance of an obstacle for Embiid though, so it’s imperative Robinson stays vertical and allows his length to contest. Embiid will score despite his defense, so Robinson cannot become reckless and foul out of frustration or chase a block. If Embiid can stick two or three fouls onto Robinson early and force him out of the game, then he will have a field day in the paint.

Bench Battle

Because of injuries and a general depth weakness, the Knicks and 76ers don’t have the luxury of resting stars for long periods. Therefore, whichever bench steps up and allows the stars to rest without fear of a lead evaporation may determine the team that covers. Quickley and Hartenstein will assume this burden for New York, while Milton and Niang do so for Philadelphia. I would say the Knicks hold the slight advantage, but it’s not by much.

Philadelphia 76ers Starting Lineup

PG: James Harden
SG: De’Anthony Melton
SF: Tobias Harris
PF: PJ Tucker
C: Joel Embiid

New York Knicks Starting Lineup

PG: Jalen Brunson
SG: Quentin Grimes
SF: RJ Barrett
PF: Julius Randle
C: Mitchell Robinson

Key Injuries

Philadelphia 76ers Injuries: Tyrese Maxey (O)

New York Knicks Injuries: Obi Toppin (O), Trevor Keels (Q)

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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