3 Major Takeaways From Knicks' Stunning Game 2 Win over 76ers

The Knicks snagged victory out of the jaws of defeat to command two game series lead over the 76ers. What were the key stories from the Game 2 thriller?
Apr 22, 2024; New York, New York, USA;  New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) celebrates
Apr 22, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) celebrates / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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It was another instance in a season full of them, except this time it came under the bright lights of the postseason stage at Madison Square Garden. 

With under a minute left to play in Game 2, the New York Knicks looked like they were about to succumb to the Philadelphia 76ers, who had just gone up by 5 on a Tyrese Maxey three shot, and head to the City of Brotherly Love with a tied up first round series. That was until the carpet was once again pulled out from beneath the visitors by some Knicks heroics and suddenly the tides have turned to a 2-0 ‘Bockers advantage. 

The rally was sparked by the unshakable confidence of Jalen Brunson, who despite going 8/26 on the night nailed a 25-foot three-point bouncer to cut the 76ers lead to two. Then, OG Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein followed it up with huge rebounds to put the Knicks into extra possessions and it was all capitalized by a Donte DiVincenzo dagger on a second attempt that sent the Garden crowd into a frenzy and New York into the coveted 2-0 lead. 

Some could say it was a miraculous finish at an arena that’s seen too many of them, but the Knicks had to overcome much more than the final minute deficit. They didn’t earn their first lead of the contest until 68-67 in the third quarter. Maxey and Joel Embiid combined for 69 total points, the former playing the game with an illness that didn’t slow down his speed and aggressiveness. 

It simply came down to the insatiable amount of grit that the Knicks play with until the final horn dictates their fate. That is now a commanding head start in the series that now heads to enemy territory and a place that will really determine if New York is the better team that’s going to pull out this matchup with the 76ers. 

Here’s more on the major takeaways that defined Knicks Sixers Game 2 on Monday night. 

Maxey’s “Flu Game”

The Philadelphia 76ers already had concerns going into Game 2 with the health of Joel Embiid, who has been battling the rehab process in the aftermath of a left knee injury that was repaired during the regular season. Prior to the start Monday night, Tyrese Maxey was added to the list with an illness, except his performance was by no means limited. 

Maxey got off to a fast 9-0 start with three quick threes from around the world that put the 76ers up early a la their first quarter showing in Game 1. The jolt of offensive energy was so shocking for a man under the weather that it had many thinking back to the Michael Jordan “Flu Game” and asking if a copycat was in the works. 

Certainly, Maxey would finish with an impressive outing despite his ailment. The point guard scored 35 points off 12/22 shooting, including 5/11 from the three-point stripe. It marked his third game above 30 points in the last five dating back to the final week of the regular season, and led all Philadelphia scorers in an affair that felt like theirs until the waning seconds. 

Maxey will be the critical player for the Sixers if they are to rebound in the next two games at Wells Fargo Center. He certainly performs better on home court, shooting 45 and 39.1% and averaging 26.1 points compared to his slightly lower numbers on the road. The Knicks will need to remain tight in guarding him, as he has made light work of the team’s coverages in the first two games. 

Luckily, for the Knicks his biggest play of the night was rejected by Hartenstein with about six seconds left in regulation when the big man sent a driving layup by Maxey off the backboard to avoid losing the lead before OG Anunoby and Donte DiVincenzo could lock it down. 

Maxey isn’t perfect and is prone to making some ill-advised turnovers in critical moments. He recognized that after the game as something he did on a late inbounds that cost the team an important position that led to the DiVincenzo’s dagger. He could expect the Knicks to throw more pressure at him in Game 3 with the goal of disrupting the main heartbeat of the 76ers offense thus far.