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Field Level Media - Professional sports content solutions | FLM

Apr 24, 2024 4:07 pm

Sixers have backs against wall entering Game 3 vs. Knicks

DiVincenzo

The first two games of the Eastern Conference matchup between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers could have gone either way.

The Knicks pulled out two dramatic victories in the opening round.

Game 3 will see the series shift to Philadelphia on Thursday night.

The Knicks captured Game 1 in a close battle and then scored eight straight points in the final 30 seconds to basically steal Game 2, 104-101, on Monday. Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo each made a clutch 3-pointer during the frenetic finish.

The Sixers filed a grievance to the league office following the loss because of a number of perceived missed calls.

“Find a way,” Brunson said.

The Knicks sure did.

Five players scored in double figures led by Brunson with 24 points. Josh Hart added 21 points and 15 rebounds and DiVincenzo had 19 points. The Knicks didn’t shoot particularly well (40.7 percent), but they made enough plays down the stretch.

“There’s been some pretty wild finishes, but that was right up there with the best of them,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That just shows you what the playoffs are all about. And oftentimes, it’s a hustle play here, a hustle play there, just find a way to win. Tonight, we made some big shots, big hustle plays, getting to the floor, coming up with a steal, coming up with a block, making free throws. We did it all.”

Especially Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein, who took advantage of a hobbled Joel Embiid to grab a huge offensive rebound which led to DiVincenzo’s go-ahead 3-pointer.

“Go get the ball, just go get the ball,” Hartenstein said. “It was just kind of instinct.”

The Sixers will look to cut the series deficit in half when they battle the Knicks.

Despite dealing with an undisclosed illness, Tyrese Maxey had 35 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Embiid scored 34 points and pulled down 10 rebounds despite struggling with an ongoing sore left knee. Embiid suffered a torn lateral left meniscus on Jan. 30 and missed 29 games.

Embiid returned April 2, but he has clearly looked limited with an inability to jump off the floor.

Following the Game 2 loss, Embiid was visibly angry.

“We’re gonna win this,” Embiid said of the series.

“Got to put it behind us now,” Maxey added. “You’ve got 48 hours to think about it and come up with a plan to get two at home.”

The Sixers have been eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals each of the last three seasons.

This time, they may not make it out of the first round without winning four of the next five games.

Yet the Sixers remain optimistic.

“We did have a chance to win those two games,” Nicolas Batum said. “So all we have to do is keep fighting. Now we go home, it’ll be another big fight. Just go out there and keep playing. Keep playing. Adjust a couple things. We did a better job today in rebounding. But in the last minute, we lost some rebounds.”

Even with an illness, Maxey didn’t lose any of his quickness. That was a major bright spot after a tough loss.

“The last 15 minutes, he was really chasing it down, turning on the jets and slamming on brakes, doing all the things he can do time and time again,” Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse said.

–Field Level Media

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