by Jonah Ballow
NYKnicks.com
@jonahballow

12:00 PM ET | Madison Square Garden
TV:  MSG
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM

1.  The Knicks suffered a narrow defeat in Detroit on Friday night despite 29 points from Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter’s double-double.  Down the stretch, New York owned a four-point lead but the Pistons late 6-2 run and half court defense staved off the road team’s effort.  Tobias Harris scored 24 points in the 104-101 victory for the Pistons.  Even with the loss, the Knicks did not lose ground (No. 8) in the latest Eastern Conference standings as the team sits at 17-15, just a half game behind Washington and Milwaukee.

2.  There are only two teams in the entire league with 15 wins on their home floors: New York and San Antonio.  The Knicks have won five straight at Madison Square Garden heading into the matchup against the Sixers.  While at the friendly confines of MSG, New York shoots 48.3 percent from the floor, 38.4 percent behind the arc, and averages a whopping 107.8 points per outing.  Following today’s contest, the Knicks will hit the road for three straight games starting in Chicago and ending in New Orleans on December 28.  The next home game is scheduled for January 2 against the Spurs.

3.  Today’s tilt features two of the best young players in the league.  Porzingis and Joel Embiid represent the new-era big men with all-around skills to take over games.  Currently, Porzingis is averaging 24.7 points per game and Embiid is right behind him at 23.7.  Both players are tied for blocks per game (1.96) while ranking No. 3 in the league.  Due to Embiid’s injuries in the past, the 7-footers have only squared off once in their careers and that matchup occurred last January in Philadelphia.

4.  The Sixers bolstered their lineup this offseason with the additions of J.J. Redick and Amir Johnson.  Trevor Booker was also acquired in a trade from Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago.  Philadelphia hoped to merge the healthy returns of Embiid and Ben Simmons with the veteran players to create a team that could compete for a playoff spot in 2018.  The rookie Markelle Fultz has not played since late October due to a shoulder injury.  Philadelphia jumped out to an impressive 13-9 start to the season but the team has hit a rough stretch recently by suffering five straight losses and only one win in its last 10 games.  The Sixers enter the Atlantic Division showdown against New York with a 14-18 overall record.

5.  The Knicks will take center stage for a special Christmas matinee at the World’s Most Famous Arena.  Christmas is the showcase day for the NBA as the league presents marquee matchups for the national audience.  New York leads the NBA in Christmas Day Appearances with 52 games that started on 1947 when the team defeated Providence 89-75.