Instant Observations: 76ers Collapse In Final Minute, Suffer Backbreaking Loss to Knicks in Game 2

Instant Observations: 76ers Collapse In Final Minute, Suffer Backbreaking Loss to Knicks in Game 2 Apr 22, 2024; New York, New York, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) shoots the ball in front of New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) during the first half during game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers lost Game 2 in devastating fashion, coughing up a five-point lead with less than a minute remaining. They fell to the New York Knicks 104-101 on Monday night at Madison Square Garden and now find themselves down 2-0 in the series.

Tyrese Maxey finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists. Joel Embiid recorded 34 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Tobias Harris added 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists. De’Anthony Melton (back injury recovery) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) were out for the Sixers.

Jalen Brunson totaled 24 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Knicks. Josh Hart finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds. Donte DiVincenzo scored 19 points, including the game-winning 3-pointer. Julius Randle (right shoulder surgery) remained out for the Knicks.

The series moves to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Here are some instant observations from a backbreaking loss to the Knicks in Game 2:


– Maxey’s status for Game 2 was up in the air because of an illness. He immediately shook off whatever was ailing him, opening up the game by knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. The Sixers made an adjustment from Game 1, playing Maxey more away from the basketball. He sprinted around screens to get open on the perimeter, where he repeatedly cashed in from beyond the arc.

The 23-year old guard carried over his strong start into the second quarter. He captained the Sixers’ offense with Embiid off the floor, making a flurry of difficult shots on his way to scoring 11 points in the second frame.

In addition to his success as a scorer, Maxey also had his best game as a playmaker so far this postseason. The Knicks tried throwing him multiple different defensive coverages, sending pressure at him from multiple angles. Maxey largely proved up to the task, making skip passes along the perimeter and skillfully operating the pick-and-roll.

With the Sixers’ offense in desperate need of a spark, Maxey stepped up to the plate in the fourth quarter. He went deep into his toolkit, knocking down step-back mid-range jumpers, 3-pointers and tough finishes around the rim. His biggest shot of the game was a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc that gave the Sixers a four-point lead with 1:09 remaining.

Maxey’s growth this season manifested itself in the fourth quarter. Embiid did not have much left in the tank, and the Knicks were doing all they could to force the ball out of his hands. Maxey responded by carrying the Sixers’ offense and scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter.

– Despite clearly not being at 100%, Embiid gutted it out and put together a dominating performance. He began the game looking to assert himself on the glass, grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first half. As the game went on, Embiid started turning it on as a scorer. He used his size advantage to score inside and get to the free-throw line. When he was unable to establish position inside, Embiid turned to his lethal mid-range game. He had far from an efficient night as a scorer, but in the end he was still able to dominate for large portions of the game.

– Harris has rightly received a lot of criticism for his poor play over the past few weeks. He turned things around in Game 2, having one of his better all-around games this season. His effort level was off the charts, showing up especially defensively and on the glass. There was a sequence in the second quarter where he tapped an offensive rebound to Buddy Hield, setting him up for an open layup. On the other end of the court, he stripped the ball away from Hart on a drive to the basket. He got off to a slow start offensively, although he began to gain confidence in his jumper as the game wore on.

After being benched in the final minutes over the past two games, Harris remained on the floor in that situation in Game 2. He responded by playing superb defense on Brunson and grabbing a key offensive rebound in the final couple minutes of play. At this point, it is clear Harris is not going to be able to be a third scoring option for the Sixers. However, if he can consistently play with this level of effort then a lot of his offensive struggles can be forgiven.

Kyle Lowry was meant to play postseason basketball. He impacted a countless number of plays through having an insane motor and knowing where to be. The 18-year veteran finished with eight points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 34 minutes.


– If the Sixers knew how to even be an average team at inbounding the basketball they would have won this game. If any of the role players would have showed up, the series would be evened up at a game apiece.

The Sixers had the game in their grasp, holding a five-point lead with 47 seconds remaining. They then proceeded to collapse, leading to a backbreaking loss. Brunson made a tough 3-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to two points with 27 seconds remaining. The Sixers botched the inbounds with Maxey turning it over. DiVincenzo missed a 3-pointer and Isaiah Hartenstein came down with the offensive rebound. The ball found its way back out to DiVincenzo, who this time knocked down the 3-pointer to give the Knicks the lead with 13 seconds left. On the ensuing possession, Maxey drove down the floor and had his layup attempt blocked by Hartenstein. The Sixers’ epic collapse was complete after a last-second heave by Embiid clanged off the rim.

Embiid and Maxey had great games, but they received incredibly little support from the rest of the roster. Hield does not look worthy of seeing time on the floor in this series. He is passing up wide open 3-pointers and looking completely lost offensively. Kelly Oubre Jr., whose defense has been good this series, put up another clunker offensively. The Sixers need someone else in the rotation to step up as a scorer. Outside of the Sixers’ star duo, the rest of the roster accounted for a meager 32 points.

The lack of offensive production from the Sixers’ role players is made all the more glaring when looking at the Knicks’ offense. DiVincenzo is effectively spacing the floor by knocking down 3-pointers at a consistent rate. Hart is red hot from beyond the arc in addition to playing like a menace on the glass. The Sixers came into this series with the game plan to shut down Brunson and make the Knicks’ supporting cast beat them. Thus far, that plan has not worked out for Philadelphia. Hart, a 31.0% 3-point shooter this season, is shooting 8-of-15 from deep thus far in the series. Are the Sixers going to change their game plan or do they believe enough that Hart’s hot shooting is going to regress back to the mean? It will be interesting moving forward to see if head coach Nick Nurse is going to make any defensive adjustments.

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