Noel, Okafor Out as Sixers Take on Knicks
Both Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor will be sidelined tonight when the Philadelphia 76ers take on the New Yorks at Madison Square Garden, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Brown first mentioned that Okafor was experiencing soreness in his knee after the Sixers beat the Cavaliers last Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. The injury limited Okafor’s minutes in the game, a move that was deemed to be precautionary. Okafor, who played with a minutes restriction in Saturday’s game against the Nets in Albany, is expected to return to practice tomorrow.
Noel will miss his second consecutive game with lower back and right knee contusions, both suffered in Thursday’s game against the Cavaliers.
The injuries will open up opportunities for Jerami Grant and Richaun Holmes, who will start at power forward and center, respectively. Holmes, the 37th pick in last year’s NBA draft out of Bowling Green, played well in his last game against Brooklyn, finishing with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in an 18 minute run. Grant has scored in double figures in scoring in consecutive games and is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds during the preseason.
What: Sixers @ Knicks
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
When: October 12th, 7:30 PM
Where to watch: The game will not be televised in the Philadelphia market. MSG will be carrying the game, so it should be available on League Pass.
Projected Starting Lineups:
Sixers: Isaiah Canaan, JaKarr Sampson, Robert Covington, Jerami Grant, Richaun Holmes
Knicks: Jose Calderon, Sasha Vujacic, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Robin Lopez
About The Opponent
The Knicks selected Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall, one spot behind where the Sixers selected Okafor. Porzingis was frequently linked to Sam Hinkie and the Sixers leading up to the NBA draft and he has played well for the Knicks so far, including a 9 point, 10 rebound, 3 assist and 2 block performance in his last game against Washington.
Okafor’s injury deprives NBA fans of a matchup between the two highly-touted rookies. The game would have been a rematch from when the two rookies squared off against each other in the Las Vegas Summer League. The Knicks won, but Okafor finished the day with 18 points and 6 rebounds, although he did so on 8-18 shooting from the field. Porzingis finished the game with 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks, with all of the blocks coming against Okafor.
The Knicks struggled last season to a 17-65 record, in part because Carmelo Anthony missed 42 games due to injury. Anthony is back in action and has averaged 19 points per game through two preseason contests.
The Knicks were active in free agency, adding Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Kevin Seraphin, and Kyle O’Quinn. Afflalo (hamstring) and Seraphin (knee) are both doubtful for the game.
What To Look For
The game obviously loses some of its appeal because of the absence of Noel and Okafor, but that will provide a good opportunity to watch rookies Richaun Holmes and Christian Wood in expanded roles.
Holmes had played only 13 minutes in the first two preseason games before logging 19 against Brooklyn. Holmes, who shot 41.9% from three point range during his last season at Bowling Green, has made two of his four attempts from deep so far in the preseason. Wood is averaging 4.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.5 minutes per game.
The Sixers were led by Robert Covington (23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 made three’s) and Hollis Thompson (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 made three’s) in their last game against Brooklyn. Covington had his breakout game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden last year, scoring 14 points on 6 field goal attempts in a 13 minute run off the bench. The Sixers outscored the Knicks by 12 points during that run.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.