Dissecting the 76ers Series Loss to the Knicks

by Marc Narducci | May 10, 2024
Dissecting the 76ers Series Loss to the Knicks
This will be a huge offseason for the 76ers after their disappointing first-round loss in six games to the New York Knicks.

There will be plenty of time in the offseason to discuss what the Sixers should do (and any trade Joel Embiid suggestions should not be considered). 

Here, we are delving into the reasons the Sixers lost to the New York Knicks, a team with not as much overall talent, but one that played with plenty of heart. 

First off, regardless of one’s rooting interest, this was among the more compelling first-round series that anybody will ever see.

How close were the teams?

Final point totals in six games; Knicks 650, Sixers 649.

Here are some of the reasons the Knicks emerged victorious.

1. Jalen Brunson. The former Villanova All-American, had a rough first two games and then resumed his regular season dominance in the final four games. 

For the six-game series, Brunson averaged 35.5 points, 9.0 assists, 2.8 turnovers, despite just shooting 42.9% from the field and 30.4% from three-point range. 

In the last four games of the series, when many players on both teams were a little gassed, Brunson averaged 41.8 points, 10.3 assists, 2.8 turnovers and shot .492 from the field, .353 from deep. Brunson got his shot off against any defender the Sixers put on him and controlled the game. 

2. Offensive rebounding. One had to be impressed with how hard the Knicks played. They somehow took the Sixers by surprise in their 111-104 win in Game 1, out rebounding them 23-9 on the offensive boards. While the Sixers somewhat recovered after that, they still couldn’t keep the Knicks off the offensive glass. The Knicks outrebounded the Sixers 273-247 overall. On the offensive glass, the Knicks outrebounded the Sixers, 87-64. That is 23 more second chance opportunities with the offensive rebounds. 

3. Josh Hart. Part of the Villanova trio that also included Donte DiVincenzo, Hart averaged 16.8 points and 12.3 rebounds, while playing a team-high 46.3 minutes per game. He shot .432 from beyond the arc (16 for 37) and had more offensive rebounds than Joel Embiid (22-19).

4. Embiid running out of steam. Joel Embiid played extremely hurt. He had a bum knee that didn’t appear to be close to 100% after his meniscus surgery. He also had Bell’s palsy. If a player had to just deal with one of these issues, it would be difficult. Embiid played with both and still averaged 33.0 points and 10.8 rebounds. That is incredible production for a player well below 100%. That said, he often wore down in the fourth quarter, partly because the Sixers had to play him so many minutes. Embiid averaged 41.4 minutes. In Game 4 when the Knicks won 97-92 to take a 3-1 lead, Embiid played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter and had one point and one rebound, while shooting 0-5. During the 118-115 loss in Game 6, he shot 2-for-4 for six points and one rebound in the fourth quarter, while picking up three personal fouls and fouling out. On one hand, it was admirable he was out there, but on the other, he needed to play his best at crunch time, and too often he appeared gassed. 

5. Thibs’ adjustment. In a vintage Game 5 performance, Sixers All-Star Tyrese Maxey scored 46 points and willed the Sxers to a 112-106 OT win. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau decided that Maxey wasn’t going to beat him in Game 6. The Knicks put multiple defenders on him, forced him to constantly give up the ball and didn’t give him free reign when driving the lane. The result: Maxey scored 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting and 1-for-6 from beyond. 

6. No help. That brings us to the final point – other than Maxey and Embiid, the Sixers only had one other player who averaged double figures in scoring during the series, Kelly Oubre (13.2 ppg.) The Knicks on the other hand had six players average double figures. The Sixers were let down by their bench, in addition to the non-Embiid, Maxie and Oubre starters. Tobias Harris, with zero points and just two attempted shots in 29:20 of the elimination game, was among the more inconsistent Sixers in the series. 

The Sixers have tons of cap room and will no doubt make big changes this offseason, but this seemed like a lost chance to at least get to the Eastern Conference finals. 


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Author: Marc Narducci


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