Instant Observations: 76ers’ Season Ends After 118-115 Loss to Knicks in Game 6

Instant Observations: 76ers’ Season Ends After 118-115 Loss to Knicks in Game 6 May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) controls the ball against New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) during the first half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers’ season is over after they lost to the New York Knicks 118-115 in Game 6 on Thursday night.

Joel Embiid led the Sixers with 39 points and 13 rebounds. Buddy Hield scored 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting from 3-point range. Nic Batum added 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) remained out for the Sixers.

Jalen Brunson finished with 41 points and 12 assists. Donte DiVincenzo totaled 23 points, four rebounds, seven assists, two steals and three blocks. OG Anunoby recorded 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Julius Randle (right shoulder surgery) and Bojan Bogdanovic (left foot surgery) were out of the lineup for the Knicks.

Here are some instant observations from the Sixers’ hard fought loss in Game 6.


– Following his worst performance of the series in Game 5, Embiid responded with a masterful showing on Thursday night. He took control of the Sixers’ offense, scoring their first nine points of the game. With their offense struggling, Embiid punished Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson, resulting in multiple trips to the free-throw line.

The Knicks, as they have all series, dialed up a lot of different pressure looks for Embiid. The big fella handled them effectively, carving up New York’s defense repeatedly with crisp passes throughout the first half. While he might have finished with only two assists, he recorded a plethora of hockey assists while setting up his teammates for open shots.

Embiid went deep into his scoring arsenal, punishing the Knicks whenever they attempted to defend him with single coverage. He scored multiple buckets on Hartenstein, backing him down before making hook shots around the rim.

Say what you want about Embiid’s play throughout this series. He certainly had his share of poor moments, but Game 6 was not one of them. With the season on the line and his co-star having an off night, Embiid did all he could to carry the Sixers. His efforts proved to not be enough.

– The Sixers’ supporting cast has been much maligned throughout this series. It was a different story in Game 6. The Sixers got off to a brutal start, getting outscored 28-9 in the first 7:59 of action. With Embiid off the floor, Batum and Cam Payne provided some crucial juice to a struggling Sixers’ offense. Batum knocked down a couple of 3-pointers and hit the glass hard. After missing a jumper from the corner, Payne stole the ball from Josh Hart and knocked down an open 3-pointer.

Behind Batum and Payne’s production, the Sixers were able to outscore the Knicks 13-8 in a 3:50 span with Embiid off the floor. It gave the Sixers some much needed positive momentum after a terrible start to the game.

While Batum and Payne played well off the bench, the Sixers’ best bench performance came from Hield. After losing his rotation spot earlier this series, he came off the bench and provided a huge spark. He knocked down a barrage of 3-pointers in the second quarter, including raining one from the corner in the final seconds of the first half.

Hield’s 17 points in the second quarter were a large reason why the Sixers went into halftime with a three-point lead. Give Hield a ton of credit for staying ready despite not playing at all since Game 3. He remained locked in and prepared for whenever his number was called.

– The Sixers showed some guts in fighting back from a 22-point deficit in the first quarter. Previous iterations of this team would have folded like a cheap suit after getting punched in the mouth in a closeout game. However, this team fought and clawed their way back into the game. While their efforts were ultimately not enough, Sixers fans can at least still take pride in the fight this team showed throughout this series.


– It was only two days ago that Tyrese Maxey willed the Sixers to an improbable victory in Game 5. He failed to produce at anywhere near the same level on Thursday night. His poor play in Game 6 was the biggest reason the Sixers lost this game.

After his huge night in Game 5, the Knicks came in determined to not let him beat them. They threw constant double teams and traps at Maxey, forcing him to get the ball out of his hands. Maxey is at his best when he can use his speed to go downhill, but the Knicks’ defense did an effective job sealing off his driving lanes. The 23-year old did a poor job of adjusting to the defensive coverages New York was using against him. He spent far too many possessions draining the shot clock while attempting to read New York’s defense. Maxey finished the contest with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting to go with five rebounds and five assists.

Despite his bad performance in Game 6, there are still far more positive things to takeaway from his overall play throughout both this series and season. He earned his first All-Star berth and followed it up by winning the Most Improved Player award. In the postseason, he put the Sixers on his back on multiple occasions, including his 46-point performance in Game 5. He proved to everyone he is one of the league’s bright shining stars.

Tobias Harris scoring zero points while taking just two shots in a closeout game is a fitting way to end his tenure in Philadelphia. He disappeared for the entirety of Game 6, which is inexcusable for someone making nearly $40 million this season.

Kyle Lowry gave the Sixers absolutely nothing in Game 6. He went scoreless in 13 minutes, finishing with just two rebounds, three assists and a block. Not much should be expected from the 38-year old, so it is not shocking to see him have these kinds of performances.

– The Sixers throughout this series elected to give Hart open looks from beyond the arc. The strategy makes sense based off Hart being just a 31.0% shooter from 3-point range this season. However, that strategy killed them at multiple points in this series. It again came back to bite Philadelphia at the end of Game 6. With the game knotted up at 111 and 35 seconds remaining, the Sixers doubled Brunson and forced him to pass the ball. He swung it to Hart at the top of the key, who knocked down the wide open 3-pointer that proved to be the game winner. Sometimes betting on the percentages is the correct thing to do. Clearly it was not in this case.

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