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Knicks-Sixers: 5 takeaways from the rough Game 1

Mitchell Robinson was a major reason why New York dominated glass and sofa manufacturing.

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NEW YORK – Game 1 of the first round between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers was a rollercoaster ride, with both teams erasing a deficit of at least 13 points. In the end, it was the Knicks who came out on top, improving to 20-2 (12-0 at home) in games where they had both Jalen Brunson and OG Anunoby.

Here are some notes, numbers and video from New York’s 111-104 win at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.


1. Embiid throws down, goes down and comes back

The big question of the series quickly went from “how well will Joel Embiid play” to “how.” a lot of he will play.”

Embiid had the highlight of the night late in the second quarter when he threw the ball off the backboard to himself, grabbed it with one hand and threw down a dunk over OG Anunoby and Mitchell Robinson. But Embiid then landed on his left leg, turned around, grabbed his left knee and fell to the ground.

The left knee, of course, is the same one that required meniscus surgery in February, forcing Embiid to miss 29 straight games. He went to the locker room with 2:37 left in the half and things looked pretty bleak for the Sixers, who trailed by 12 at halftime to the only undefeated team (28-0) in games that have led by at least five points had an advantage. peace.

And then Embiid emerged from the locker room shortly before the third quarter started. After missing a shot on the first possession of the second half, Philly scored 32 points on its next 15 trips down the floor, turning a 14-point deficit into a six-point lead.

Embiid also provided the highlight of that run, an absolute dime to Kelly Oubre Jr. during the break.

Joel Embiid assists Kelly Oubre Jr.

Unfortunately, while the Sixers won the first and third quarters by a total of 24 points (70-46), they lost the second and fourth by a total of 31 (65-34).

Embiid’s 36:33 playing time was slightly less than he recorded in the Sixers’ Play-In win on Wednesday, but still his second-highest total in the seven games he has played since returning from injury.

Sixers head coach Nick Nurse did not have a postgame update on Embiid, who opted not to speak to the media after the game.


2. The Knicks’ new bench is going to be big

The Knicks’ midseason trade for Anunoby upgraded their starting lineup, but the departure of Immanuel Quickley dealt a blow to what was sixth in the league at the time of the trade. Josh Hart, who entered the starting lineup on January 29 in place of the injured Julius Randle, was another goal.

From that point on, the Knicks’ bench ranked 19th and was outscored by 11.6 points per 100 possessions while Jalen Brunson was off the floor. They traded for Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks at the deadline, and their minutes weren’t good.

But the Knicks’ bench was huge in Game 1. The starting lineup was outscored by 18 points in just under 16 minutes on Saturday, but New York defeated Philly by 25 points in just over 32 minutes with at least one reserve on the court. floor.

Only three reserves played, but they all played big. Miles McBride scored 21 points in 28 minutes, shooting 5-for-7 from 3-point range. He closed out the game in place of Donte DiVincenzo and made a big pull-up 3 to put the Knicks up five with 7:37 left.

“It’s not just about making shots,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of McBride’s performance. “But it’s the energy. It’s the defense. It’s the hustle and bustle. That goes a long way.”

Like McBride, Robinson played the entire fourth quarter. He finished with 12 rebounds (seven offensive) and four blocks in 30 minutes, easily the most he has played in 11 games since returning from an extended absence. He grabbed a big offensive rebound and tapped in his own miss, putting the Knicks up four with 4:25 to go.

Bogdanovic had 13 points and seven boards in less than 25 minutes, with his biggest moments (two 3-pointers) coming when the Knicks started the second quarter on an 11-2 run with Brunson off the floor.


3. Knicks dominate the glass again

Last season, the Knicks ranked second in offensive rebounding percentage and then destroyed the Cleveland Cavaliers on the glass in their first-round series. This season, they led the league in offensive rebounding percentage, and destroyed the Sixers on the glass in Game 1.

Philly grabbed 24 defensive rebounds. New York grabbed 23 offensive rebounds. When you factor in rebounds that went out of bounds and loose ball errors, the Knicks had an offensive rebound rate of 51.8%, the second-highest mark for any team in a game this season.

Under Robinson’s leadership, four Knicks (including the 6-foot-2 Hart) had at least four offensive boards. Anunoby only had one, but it was a particularly vicious one that resulted in a bucket for Brunson:

OG Anunoby rebound, Jalen Brunson basket

“We prioritize (offensive rebounds),” Thibodeau said. “The nights where we don’t shoot well give us an opportunity.”

The Sixers had the better half-court offense on Saturday, but it was 27-11 Knicks on fast break points and 26-8 on second-chance points, with those 26 second-chance points being the most the Sixers have allowed this season.


4. Teammates reward Brunson for making the right plays

Brunson didn’t have his best shooting game. The Sixers defended him with size (Oubre and Nicolas Batum were his main defenders) and showed him extra bodies when he drove. The All-NBA candidate finished with 22 points on 8-for-26 shooting and also committed five turnovers.

But Brunson made the right plays late. With the Knicks up by three and just two minutes remaining, the Sixers’ janky zone came his way, with Tyrese Maxey on the ball and Oubre past the nail. Brunson didn’t force anything and instead swung the ball to Hart, who drained a huge 3 to double the lead:

Jalen Brunson assists Josh Hart

The lead dropped back to four on the next possession when Brunson was doubled up on the right side of the floor. He then fired a skip pass to the left wing, where Anunoby drained another 3:

Jalen Brunson assists OG Anunoby

While Brunson went 1-for-6 from 3-point range, his teammates went 15-for-29 (52%). It’s a make-or-miss competition and the Knicks are now 38-6 (third best) when beating their opponent from beyond the arc.


5. Embiid settles too much

Embiid had some strong post-ups in Game 1, as well as some good rebounds when the Knicks were double-teamed. Too often his catches were 25 feet from the basket. And all too often he settled for long jumpers instead of trying to get in:

Joel Embiid airball 3-pointer

Embiid went 11-for-12 from the free throw line, but just 8-for-22 from the field, including 4-for-16 from outside the restricted area.

His presence alone means a lot. But if Embiid isn’t more effective going forward, the Sixers are in trouble.

Game 2 is Monday (7:30 ET, TNT).

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John Schuhmann is a senior statistical analyst for NBA.com. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and follow him on X.

The views expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Warner Bros. Discovery

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