Knicks-76ers series undergoes twist

Alder Almo - Philstar.com
Knicks-76ers series undergoes twist
Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks goes to the basket against Kelly Oubre Jr. (No. 9) and Tyrese Maxey (No. 0) of the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half in Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 24, 2024 in New York City. The Knicks won, 104-101.
Sarah Stier / Getty Images / AFP

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey – The NBA playoff opening-round series between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers took a dramatic turn after the Last 2 Minute Report revealed missed calls that could have altered the wild ending of Game 2.

The Knicks went up 2-0 following a controversial 104-101 victory in Game 2 of the “Turnpike series”, referring to the toll roads that connect the “City That Never Sleeps” and the “City of Brotherly Love.”

The Last 2 Minute Report found the Knicks committing two fouls on 76ers All-Star point guard Tyrese Maxey during the mad scramble for the loose ball that led to Knicks swingman Donte DiVincenzo drilling the game-winning 3-pointer in the final 13 seconds of Game 2. 

“We’ve got to let it go,” Maxey told Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson after accepting his Most Improved Player of the Year award. “We had our time to grieve about it. That’s the past. Like y’all have said, they protect the home court. We have to do the same.

So, it is what it is. We’ve got to let it go. We can’t dwell on it now. If we dwell on it, in a couple of days, we’ll be down 0-3. We don’t want to be down 0-3.  We can’t leave the games in other people’s hands. We’ve got to go out there and take it.”

Joel Embiid, the reigning Most Valuable Player, vowed the 76ers would win the series after they squandered a five-point lead inside the final 30 seconds of Game 2. 

“We should be (up) 2-0, so we’re good,” Embiid told reporters after Monday’s loss (Tuesday Manila time). “We should be winning this series. We’re going to win this. We know what we’ve got to fix. We did a better job today, so we’re going to fix it. But we’re the better team and we’re going to keep fighting.”

Embiid, bothered by a left knee injury, was still a dominant force in the first two games, averaging 31.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists. But his limited mobility hurt the 76ers when it mattered. 

Embiid averaged just 5.5 points on a dismal 18.2% shooting during the fourth quarter in both losses to the Knicks. Worse, he did not pull any rebound in both closing periods.

While Embiid is unfazed, the 76ers face an uphill climb as they have never won a playoff series when trailing 0-2. 

The way the Knicks have beaten them in the opening two games was demoralizing.

The Knicks managed to beat them twice in a row despite their All-Star point guard Jalen Brunson shooting a playoff career-low 29.1% from the field. 

“I just gotta be better,” Brunson told reporters after Wednesday’s practice (Thursday Manila time) before heading to Philadelphia. 

Josh Hart, a 6-foot-4 guard who plays bigger than his size, picked up the slack. 

Hart has been the Knicks’ best player, spectacularly filling in for their injured star Julius Randle, with a whopping series-best 14.0-rebound average. He was all over the floor in the first two games, averaging a complete line: 21.5 points, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks in almost no-relief job (44.9 minutes per game).

The scrappy forward is also shooting a series-best 53.3% from downtown as the 76ers continued to sag off of him after he shot a career-low 31% from the 3-point range in the regular season. 

Hart prepared for this 76ers’ strategy by flying in his shooting coach before the series tipped off. 

“For me, it’s just [to] continue to take shots,” Hart said after Game 1. “Make them respect me on the 3-point line.”

With the series shifting to Philadelphia in front of their raucous home crowd, the 76ers are -4.5 favorites at 888 Sport, a sister company of 888 Casino, one of the top 10 casino sites in 2024. 

The 76ers are expected to get a major boost with the return of De’Anthony Melton, who averaged 11.1 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals in 38 games before he went down with a back injury. 

The pesky guard joined the 76ers practice on Wednesday (Thursday Manila time) as he plans to suit up for Game 3, scheduled to tip off at 7:30 a.m. on Friday Manila time.



Alder Almo is a former senior sportswriter for Philstar.com and NBA.com Philippines. He is now based in Jersey City, New Jersey, and writes for the New York-based website Heavy.com.

vuukle comment






  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with