Knicks-76ers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 21, 2012
The New York Knicks' revival under coach Mike Woodson is turning the Atlantic Division into a three-team race. The Philadelphia 76ers would prefer to keep that from happening. The Knicks look to cut further into the 76ers' lead atop the Atlantic when the rivals meet for the final time this season Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. New York (22-24) seemed to be fading as recently as a week ago, when a six-game skid dropped the club seven games behind Philadelphia and 4 1/2 back of second-place Boston, prompting coach Mike D'Antoni's resignation. With Woodson at the helm, the Knicks have since won four in a row by an average of 22.5 points including Tuesday's 106-87 home victory over Toronto. Suddenly, New York is within four games of the Sixers and 2 1/2 of the Celtics. "Guys are playing at a very high, confident level right now," said forward Carmelo Anthony, who had 17 points and eight rebounds versus the Raptors. "We just want to bottle that up and move on and keep it going." The Sixers (26-20) ended a three-game losing streak with Monday's 105-80 romp at league-worst Charlotte. They dominated the boards to the tune of 51-31 and outscored the Bobcats 59-36 in the second half. Hosting the Knicks on Wednesday and Boston on Friday will give Philadelphia an opportunity to re-establish some breathing room atop the division. "You don't want to look ahead on your schedule but when you lose three in a row, you start doing a lot of things out of character," guard Louis Williams said after Monday's win. "We're serious about trying to win this division and now we have to play the number two and three teams this week so we felt like it was important to get this one." Williams had 19 points Monday after averaging 9.3 during the three-game skid. He finished with a season-high 28 to lead all scorers in a 106-94 win at New York on March 11. Fellow Philadelphia guard Jrue Holiday struggled in that meeting, making 2 of 14 field goals for eight points. He's averaging 8.0 points on 26.7 percent shooting over his last five games against the Knicks. Holiday, though, has totaled 50 points and 11 assists in his last two games overall, including a career-high 30 points in Saturday's 89-80 loss at Chicago. Philadelphia and New York have split two meetings this season, both at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won their last visit to Wells Fargo Center on April 6, getting 31 points and 11 rebounds from Anthony en route to a 97-92 victory. Anthony is averaging 26.7 points and 9.7 rebounds over his last three games against the 76ers. However, he hasn't been nearly that productive during New York's current four-game winning streak, averaging 15.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. Jeremy Lin has been picking up the slack with 37 points and 16 assists over the last two games, including 18 and 10, respectively, against Toronto. Lin struggled greatly from the field against Philadelphia earlier this month, hitting 5 of 18 shots. He finished with 14 points and seven assists.
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