Philadelphia (43-30) did not officially clinch their first playoff berth in six years until the Miami Heat lost to the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, so they celebrated properly by waxing the Denver Nuggets 123-104 on Monday night.
Joel Embiid and Dario Saric scored 20 points apiece for the 76ers, but the big news was the surprising return of Markelle Fultz, who had ten points and eight assists in just over 14 minutes in his first appearance since October 23. Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick, had suffered a shoulder injury that evolved into a months-long absence that also included reportedly overhauling his jump shot.
The 76ers are fourth in the Eastern Conference and one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers for third as they see their first eight-game winning streak since a nine-game run from February 12 to March 2, 2003.
New York (27-48) are wrapping up a three-game road swing with this contest after a 137-128 overtime loss at Charlotte on Monday night. Trey Burke scored a career-high 42 points and added a season-best 12 assists, but the Knicks defense suffered too many breakdowns as they allowed 20 points in the extra period as the Hornets shot 54.8 percent overall.
Michael Beasley added 27 points and eight rebounds for New York, who have lost three of their last four. The Knicks, who have dropped their three games to the 76ers this season by a combined 31 points, have not been swept in a season series against them since the 2008/09 season.