Knicks advance to second round eliminating 76ers 118-115 in Game 6

Jalen Brunson put up a monster 41-point, 12-assist effort, Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points with seven assists, and the New York Knicks closed out the Philadelphia 76ers with a 118-115 win.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Josh Hart stopped for only a second after Jalen Brunson passed him the ball from the left wing, realizing the 76ers weren’t putting any defense on him amid a furious Philadelphia crowd yelling for defense. Hart, left all by himself at the top of the arc, let it fly. He claimed, “I was able to get my feet in position and just shoot an open, uncontested shot.”

After making the game-winning 3-pointer with 24.4 seconds remaining, Hart lifted his arms and extended three fingers on each hand, helping the New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 118-115 on Thursday night and advance to the second round of the playoffs. With 41 points and 12 assists, Brunson led the Knicks, who will play Indiana in the Eastern Conference semifinals. For the first time in ten years, the Pacers made it to the second round after defeating Milwaukee in six games.

In New York, Game 1 is on Monday night. For the first time since the postseasons of 1992–2000, the Knicks are advanced to the second round in a consecutive season. However, not many have accomplished what Brunson did in this series—scoring forty points or more in each of the last three games. He became the first NBA player to score forty points or more to end a series since Michael Jordan for Chicago against Cleveland in 1989, and the first Knick to do so since Bernard King forty years prior.

In a series characterized by close games, Hart made the game-winning clutch jumper to make it 114-111 and said, “Let’s go, Knicks! Cries of “Let’s go Knicks!” reverberated around Philadelphia’s home floor. Joel Embiid made a basket, but the following possession ended with a foul. Donte DiVincenzo made two free throws to seal the victory for New York.

The fourth quarter, according to Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, “was just one big play after the next.” Naturally, Hart, DiVincenzo, and Jalen Brunson—three former Villanova Wildcats—rescued the Knicks from a first-half meltdown that could have easily forced a Game 7 into action. In 48 minutes, DiVincenzo scored 23 points, while Hart only managed 16.

Hart made up for a missed free throw that would have given the Knicks a four-point lead late in Game 5. Tyrese Maxey, nursing a three-point lead, made a 35-foot jumper with 8.1 seconds remaining to tie the score at 97, and the Sixers went on to win. Hart remarked, “I felt that loss is on my shoulders.” “I had a full day and a half to consider that. Really, that was all I could think of.

The 76ers will have another lengthy summer to reflect on another season of Embiid’s lost potential. The team trailed by 22 points in the first half before snatching a 54-51 lead at the half. Embiid recorded a final line of 13 rebounds and 39 points. Joe Hield scored twenty points. Maxey finished with 17 points after scoring 45 points in Game 5. He was insignificant throughout the first half of the game.

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) shoots against the Philadelphia 76ers 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 76ers coach Nick Nurse stated, “This series probably could have gone the exact opposite way the way it did.” However, it didn’t. The final moments of the game at Wells Fargo Center sounded more like Madison Square Garden, despite Philadelphia’s best attempts to keep boisterous Knicks fans at home. After the game, Knicks supporters flocked to the area around New York’s tunnel, raising their phones to record their beloved team making its way to the locker room.

Was it antagonistic? When questioned about the mood, Thibodeau broke down. In this particular game, it seemed instinctive to want to go straight to the end. Since the 1996–1997 season, there have been five playoff games (two of which occurred in this series) in which a team trailed by five or more points in the final 30 seconds of regulation before rallying to win. The Knicks came back to win 104-101 in game two.

In Game 5, the 76ers overcame the odds to win 112-106 in overtime. It was thrilling, draining, and there was yet more to come. After retaking the building, Sixers supporters were yelling at the late tip, just after 9 p.m., only to see the Knicks storm out to a 33-11 lead. at the East playoffs of the previous season, the 76ers had a 3-2 series lead over Boston; however, they lost both Game 6 at home and Game 7 at Boston. The Sixers fell to Miami at home in Game 6 and the East semifinals of 2022.

The Sixers only displayed a little moxie in this sixth game. Hield nearly salvaged the season because Maxey was unable to find a shot. After a poor finish to the season, Hield—who was acquired at the trade deadline—lost his starting position. In the first three games of the series, he missed all four of his 3-point shots, and in the final two, he did not participate. In Game 6, Hield found his stroke, making five 3-pointers in the second quarter to lead the Sixers on a 34-11 surge.

His fifth three-pointer helped the Sixers lead 54–51 going into the half. In the third, Maxey made a 3-pointer to give the team a 10-point advantage, but two dreadful misses from beyond the arc led to a Knicks comeback.

OG Anunoby gave New York a three-point advantage at the end of the third quarter and an even three points at the beginning of the fourth. After Brunson made a step-back three and another three, the score was 101-95 with the game tied at 95 all. With 2:43 remaining, Anunoby’s dunk appeared to be the game-winning play that gave the Knicks an eight-point advantage. But there was still a run left in the Sixers. It wasn’t enough, just like so many barren postseasons before them.

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