Instant Observations: Poor Offense, Lack of Rebounding Effort Doom 76ers in Game 4 Loss to Knicks

Instant Observations: Poor Offense, Lack of Rebounding Effort Doom 76ers in Game 4 Loss to Knicks Apr 28, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) looks on during the first half against the New York Knicks in game four of the first round in the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers dropped Game 4 of their first round series against the New York Knicks, falling 97-92 on Sunday afternoon. Philadelphia is now facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.

Joel Embiid finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. Tyrese Maxey totaled 23 points, six rebounds and six assists. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting. Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise) remained out of the lineup for the Sixers.

Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 47 points on 18-of-34 shooting to go with four rebounds and 10 assists. OG Anunoby finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks. Julius Randle (right shoulder surgery) and Mitchell Robinson (left ankle sprain) were out for the Knicks.

The Sixers are staring down the potential end of their season in Game 5, which tips off on Tuesday evening. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Knicks in Game 4.


– Embiid, coming off a 50-point performance in Game 3, looked to pick up right where he left off. He effectively handled the pressure New York was throwing at him in the first half. While he was inefficient as a scorer, he made up for it through his improved playmaking ability. He made a few highlight passes, including a lob out of the post to Tobias Harris and a beautiful bounce pass to set up Harris for a dunk in transition. It was clear he was also making a concerted effort early on to crash the glass. He finished the first half with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

– Oubre was one of the lone Sixers players who played well for the entirety of Game 4. After being a non-factor offensively earlier in the series, he is beginning to find his rhythm. He knocked down a couple 3-pointers and was strong finishing around the basket. His defense took a step down from the level it was at to begin the series. However, that can be forgiven if he continues to produce offensively in the same manner he did in Game 4.


– The non-Embiid minutes have been a problem for the Sixers throughout this series. Heading into Game 4, the team was outscored by 32 points in the 29 minutes Embiid was off the floor. Their struggles when Embiid goes to the bench continued on Sunday. The Sixers built up a 10-point lead after Embiid played the entirety of the first quarter. They then fell apart with Embiid on the bench in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The Knicks outscored Philadelphia 8-2 in the first 4:02 of the second frame. The Sixers missed all seven of their shot attempts during that period.

The Sixers’ offense in the non-Embiid minutes has been brutal. Maxey found success carrying those lineups during the regular season, but it has not carried over into the playoffs. With Embiid off the floor, the Knicks’ defensive attention is geared towards slowing Maxey down. New York has done a good job of preventing Maxey from getting space to drive to the basket, forcing him to play solely on the perimeter. Maxey has gotten no consistent help from any of the supporting cast in this series. Cam Payne failed to provide the same level of play he did in Game 3. De’Anthony Melton returned to the lineup and failed to make any positive impact on the game.

Due to the Sixers’ failure to even stay afloat when Embiid is not on the floor, head coach Nick Nurse decided to play Embiid the entirety of the second half. Nurse’s gamble could be understood in the moment when considering how bad the non-Embiid minutes went in the first half. However, it proved to be the wrong decision. Embiid had nothing left in the tank in the final minutes of the game.

– Two key things hurt the Sixers in the fourth quarter of Game 4. First, their inability to rebound the basketball. The Sixers did a solid job cleaning up their rebounding after getting dominated on the glass in Game 1. However, they were brutalized on the glass in the latter stages of Game 4. The Sixers lost the rebounding battle in the fourth quarter 18-8, including giving up seven offensive rebounds.

Their defense was not bad, although they could not finish out possessions by coming down with the rebound. Consider this possession with the Sixers down three with less than three minutes remaining. The Knicks came down with three offensive rebounds before the Sixers were finally able to end the play the ball going out of bounds off a New York player. It at times felt like the Sixers were looking for ways to avoid coming down with the rebound. Even when they were in good position, balls would deflect off their hands. The Sixers were also convincingly out-hustled, drastically hurting them on the glass. With their season essentially on the line, their poor effort on the glass is inexcusable.

In addition to their poor rebounding in the fourth quarter, the Sixers’ offense completely collapsed. Philadelphia scored a meager 16 points in the final frame. Embiid was largely out of gas and Maxey looked lost. Even with Embiid being a non-factor in the fourth quarter, the Knicks continued throwing consistent double teams at him. New York was intent on forcing someone else to beat them. Normally, Maxey would be able to effectively step up and lead the Sixers’ offense. However, he failed to produce and make good decisions with the basketball. After knocking down a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, his jumper abandoned him in the second half. With his jumper not falling and the Knicks preventing him from having open driving lanes, Maxey was ineffective as a scorer.

– The Sixers played strong defense on Brunson in the first two games of the series, limiting his impact as a scorer. Things have been a different story in both Games 3 and 4. Brunson carved up the Philadelphia defense, feeling his way through traffic and either finishing at the rim or with tough mid-range jumpers. The Knicks received very little offensively from anyone other than Brunson. Unfortunately for the Sixers, Brunson was effective enough to get the Knicks all they needed for the win.

Go to top button