3 Major Takeaways From Knicks Game 1 Win Against Philadelphia

Here's our quick look at the three biggest takeaways from Knnicks-76ers Game 1 and what stands out heading into Game 2
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) celebrates with guard
New York Knicks guard Josh Hart (3) celebrates with guard / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Knicks opened the 2024 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening and put on a boxing match-esque thriller in front of their home crowd, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 111-104 to steal Game 1 of the opening round series. 

After months of building upon the progress made last season and dealing with outside criticism for an apparent lack of a true star threat, the Knicks had a big chance to show the NBA world that they were becoming true contenders in the Eastern Conference once again. Whether it was Jalen Brunson, who has led the team with his dazzling performances nightly, or the rest of the squad, the Knicks came out like the team with the chip on their shoulder and never let the 76ers rest on their laurels.

Of course, there were the opening jitters for any main event, as the 76ers got off to a quick 17-7 start while New York’s first quarter shooting took it time to heat up. However, by the start of the second frame, the Knicks found their groove behind the heroics of their bench and rode that into a limited Sixers offense that had little to no desire to attack their foe from the interior. 

One of the biggest storylines that will follow the two organizations into the second game will be the health of Sixers center Joel Embiid. The seven-foot, 280 pound center reaggravated his left knee injury in the first half and never looked confident the rest of the game, including scoring zero points in the entire fourth quarter as the Knicks pulled away with it. 

Yet, he still wasn’t the only thing left to be discussed from Game 1 of the first round at the Mecca. Here are the three major takeaways as the Knicks look ahead to Game 2 on Monday. 

The Deuce is Loose 

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) warms up prior to
New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) warms up prior to / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the playoff opening showdown, the Knicks were fully expecting the 76ers to put a double team on Jalen Brunson as a result of him torching them for an average of 22.3 punts in their four regular season matchups. However, they did not game plan for a similar eruption from Miles McBride, who had one of his best games in his first real playoff game at the Garden. 

Playing 28 minutes after being less of a role player in the previous postseason, McBride’s time was arguably the most critical to the Knicks’ success. He shot 58.3% from the field to score 21 points for his second-best outing in the month of April, but was even hotter from beyond the arc as he nailed 5-7 three-point shots to lift the Knicks to victory. 

With Philadelphia’s focus on taking away the perimeter prowess of Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo early on, McBride was often left wide open on the arc and had plenty of time to get his shots up before the defense could get back to defend. By the time their lesson was learned, the Knicks had built a 12-point lead heading into halftime and went back to their young bull to carry the heroics into the second two frames.

Even when McBride didn’t have the ball in his hands, the attention that soon came towards him gave way to new opportunities for his teammates. He had four assists on the night, dishing to guys like Bojan Bogdanovic, Josh Hart and Mitchell Robinson who all made big plays down the stretch to cap off the hard fought win.

In the end, McBride was the key piece that kept the Knicks offense afloat when it was clear it wasn’t Jalen Brunson’s night. He finished with a +37 plus-minus differential despite coming off the bench, the highest number for a Knicks player in their playoff history. More importantly, he proved that the team is much deeper than his counterpart in Brunson, that he’s ready to stake his claim to the Garden spotlight and poised to make a name for himself.