Sixers drop Game 2 to Knicks in heartbreaking fashion

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Nick Nurse reacts to a foul called on the 76ers in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/José Luis Villegas)

The Philadelphia 76ers retook the hardwood in Madison Square Garden for Game 2 in their first-round playoff matchup against the New York Knicks. After a disappointing collapse in Game 1, the Sixers were looking to rebound (pun very much intended) as they had another chance to steal home-court advantage.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia and their fans, this game would raise their hopes only to dash them to tiny pieces.

Maxey’s flu game

Maxey Sixers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) reacts past Sacramento Kings’ Sasha Vezenkov (7) after making a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It was a most interesting game for Tyrese Maxey, who, at times, looked like the equally ill Michael Jordan during his flu game but also was extremely copeable in the team’s loss.

Regardless of one’s health, 35 points, nine rebounds, and ten assists is quite an impressive stat line. Maxey was explosive offensively and has managed to overcome every look New York has thrown his way, but when the Sixers needed him most, he vanished.

Though he played well for most of the game, Maxey played 13 minutes of costly basketball for the Sixers, including 12 scoreless minutes in the third quarter and two turnovers in the final two minutes of the fourth. Although, arguments were and will continue to be raised about the game’s final seconds.

Where in the world is Buddy Hield?

Philadelphia 76ers’ Buddy Hield, left, tries to keep the ball away from New York Knicks’ Josh Hart during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

As impressive as Tyrese Maxey’s night was, despite his arguable last-minute miscue, Buddy Hield’s was the complete antitheist. Taking three shots and scoring just two points, Hield was once again a complete non-factor in this series.

Are the playoff lights too bright? What keeps Hield from seizing the moment or even playing like a functional offensive cog?

There is still time to turn this series around, but Hield is not only costing himself a role on this playoff run but also millions of dollars this offseason.

Another controversial ending

Philadelphia 76ers’ Nick Nurse, right, reacts after the 76ers lost an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Wednesday, March 27, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

It was confounding that Sixers head coach Nick Nurse did not call a timeout in the moments before the Knicks retook the lead. Except, according to Nurse, he did call a timeout, multiple times both before the inbounds and when Maxey was on the court with the ball, but was rebuffed multiple times by the officials.

As the Sixers looked to inbound the ball down three with less than 30 seconds on the clock, Sixers head coach Nick Nurse attempted to call a timeout repeatedly but to no avail.

There were also stills that showed Knicks guard Jalen Brunson grabbing Tyrese Maxey by the jersey on the inbounds play which, by the letter of the law, is a foul. There was no whistle, however, and the game proceeded in a way that wound up favorable for New York.

As inexplicable as this is, many arguments could also be made that the Sixers should not have found themselves in this position to begin with. Had it not been for several critical lapses, the Sixers would, and should, have walked away with a win on the road tonight.

While the performance of the referee crew was questionable at best, it happened and there is no option but to move on. Though that’s not how the Sixers feel apparently.

The airing of grievances

Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey speaks during a news conference before an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Well, it looks like Festivus is coming early this year as the Sixers will be airing their grievances to the league office, according to All PHLY’s Kyle Neubeck.

Will this change? No, but will this at least spark the embers of meaningful change? Also no.

Up next for the Sixers

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson (11) passes away from Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) during the first half of Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The series is coming back home for the Sixers, who need a trip to Philadelphia in the worst way. The next battle between these two Atlantic Division rivals will come on Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on TNT or NBC Sports Philadelphia.