Sixers vs. Knicks: Preview and predictions for Game 5

Sixers 76ers
New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson, center, drives against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) and guard Kyle Lowry (7) during the first half in Game 1 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Philadelphia 76ers are in New York to take on the Knicks in what could be the final game of their season on Tuesday night. With all that the Sixers have dealt with this season, having injuries and rotational issues, the Sixers have to put it all together on Tuesday night if they’re going to get back in the series. The way the Knicks have played, the Sixers can win three games, but the team isn’t playing well short of their two stars.

Sixers game information

Who: Philadelphia 76ers (1-3) at New York Knicks (3-1)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia, MSG, TNT

Latest on the Sixers

Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid, center, reaches over New York Knicks’ Precious Achiuwa, left, for a rebound during the first half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Sixers are on the verge of heading home early, again, this season as they take on the Knicks, down 3-1 in the series. Only 13 teams have come back from being down 3-1 in a series in the history of the NBA playoffs. The last team to do it, the Denver Nuggets, did it twice during the 2020 playoffs, and the Sixers could add their name to that list if they can get one to start on Tuesday night.

Short of Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers team has been a huge failure during the start of these playoffs. Embiid is averaging 35 points, 9 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in 40 minutes per game, while Maxey is averaging 29 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists during the series.

After those two, Kelly Oubre Jr. is averaging 12.5 points, and Kyle Lowry just 10 points per game. The disappearing act that Tobias Harris started at the end of the season has become official with his 8.8 points and 7.8 rebounds while being afraid of playing anywhere near the basket or making any shots outside. The team, as a whole, after its two stars, has failed.

Head Coach Nick Nurse needs to do something tonight to give the Sixers a chance to win, which means not using Embiid for the entirety of the second half and not rotating players in or out based on performance. He needs to get someone on the floor to make shots and stop watching his team fail on the floor repeatedly.

Tobias Harris isn’t playing like a starter, Reed should get some more minutes to give Embiid a break so he’s fresh at the end of the game, Hield and Payne need a few minutes to see if they can make shots. There needs to be adjustments because the team is almost out of time.

Latest on the Knicks

New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after a basket during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Knicks have six players scoring over 10 points per game led by Jalen Brunson with 33 per game, adding 9 assists and 5.3 rebounds as well. While Brunson is shooting just 40.5% and 25.9% on his three-point attempts for the series, which isn’t great, but he’s scoring when his team needs him to and his teammates are following it up by adding their own.

Miles McBride added 13 points in Sundays victory while OG Anunoby finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Even Josh Hart, who was 0-7 from the field, finished with 4 points but added 17 rebounds. The Knicks are getting contributions from the supporting cast, when they need them most. Something the Sixers have yet to see form anyone on their roster.

The Knicks, at home, will just have to continue to play the game they’ve played over the past week, grinding the Sixers down and controlling Embiid and Maxey, if they’re going to close out the series on Tuesday night. If they’re unable to control the big two from Philly and the Sixers get any sort of contributions from the rest of their team, the Knicks will run into the same issue they had in losing Game 3.

What to watch for tonight

Philadelphia 76ers’ Tobias Harris (12) goes up for a dunk during the first half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

This could be the end for the Sixers, and while everyone is hopeful, they’re also being realistic in the fact that this team could be done after tonight, and the one they put on the floor come next season will not resemble this one at all.

Having built the team to support and play well around Joel Embiid on the court, the team, as a whole, has failed their superstar and each other. Tobias Harris is sneaking out of the bank after having robbed the team of $180 Million over the past five seasons. He’s not even trying out there and seems to have lost any sort of confidence he may have had.

Buddy Hield, the big name that Daryl Morey brought in at the trade deadline, can’t even get on the floor, having played just 29 minutes over the entire series and not one of them in Game 4. Hield is 1-7 from the floor and 0-4 in the limited actions he’s seen and has looked lost when he was on the court, leading to him not logging a single minute in the last game. Even Cam Payne is 6-11 from the field and 4-7 on three-point attempts over the last two games. The whole team has disappeared.

Nick Nurse better have figured out the best way to utilize his players for tonight’s contest, where he should be pulling all of the tricks out of his bag. If you’re willing to not play Hield at all, then you have to look at doing the same with Tobias Harris. If that means more minutes for Payne and Paul Reed, then so be it.

If that means getting players like Ricky Council IV or KJ Martin in to combat the rebounding and scoring of the Knicks, then he has to do it. If he continues to run Embiid, who has missed two months rehabbing his knee, out there for 40+ minutes tonight, then the Sixers will be finished, and they’ll be looking over what went wrong and trying to reset for next season.

The Sixers are in do-or-die mode for the next three games, but, most importantly, will be getting a win tonight in New York and trying to build some momentum.


Sixers 121 – Knicks 117