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Knicks Keys to Closing Out the Series vs 76ers

OG Anunoby is a key factor in the Knicks closing out their series tonight.

Knicks vs 76ers has proven to be the must-see TV everyone thought it would be. Four out of the five games have been decided by under 10 points, and almost all of them were close games with 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter. It has been a wild ride to start the postseason. The Knicks have pulled off gritty comebacks and miraculous wins while losing games they had under complete control. Game 6 is at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, and despite everything about their toughness and ability to pull out close games, nobody in Knicks faithful wants the series to return to the Garden for a Game 7.

So, how do the Knicks finish off this series?

Knicks Keys to Closing Out the Series vs 76ers

Guarding Tyrese Maxey

For all this talk about Joel Embiid being the series’ best sixer, that award might have to go to Tyrese Maxey. Despite playing 45 minutes a game, Maxey is averaging 32.4 points, 7.2 assists, and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 43.0% from beyond the arc. Philadelphia averages just 24.0 points in the 4th quarter, and Maxey alone scores almost half of that by himself. He has gotten virtually no help from Embiid down the stretch, and in clutch time, he averages 3.0 points on 25% shooting from the field. In those moments, Maxey has carried Embiid and the Sixers on his back. Without his heroics in Game 5, where he scored 7 points in 15 seconds, the Sixers’ season would be over.

In my opinion, OG Anunoby should be the primary defender of Maxey. His length and lateral quickness will help him keep the shifty Maxey at bay. Furthermore, he is quick enough to run around screens while guarding Maxey. Anunoby can also block him from behind if Maxey gets a step ahead. However, this also leads to a size issue. The Knicks play 3 guards at all times, and because of this, Tobias Harris will consistently have a height boost over his defender. The injury to Bojan Bogdanovic hurts even more because he’s one of the Knicks’ best forwards. Bojan can knock down 3’s and hover around Harris, and we might see Thibs give Shake Milton/Alec Burks some minutes.


Increased Production from Donte DiVincenzo

The biggest worry for the Knicks throughout this series has been the lack of contribution from Donte DiVincenzo. After averaging 19.3 points per game post-All-Star break, his production has plummeted to just 9.8 points in the playoffs. He is shooting just 30% from 3 and has been a net-negative player for the Knicks. Alongside his lack of offensive production, his defense has slipped up. Opponents are now shooting over 41% from 3 against him, compared to 37% in the regular season.

For the Knicks to make a deep playoff run and win Game 6, DiVincenzo is the key. He is the Knicks’ 2nd scorer behind Jalen Brunson, and a lack of production from him will only add more burden to Brunson’s already heavy load. The Knicks’ defense is holding up against the Sixers, but when they play better offenses like the Pacers and the Celtics, defense will not be enough. Those teams will put up points, and the Knicks will have to have good games offensively if they want to move forward. In Game 6, DiVincenzo should look to get wide-open looks, and knocking down these shots will boost his confidence as the game goes on.


Offensive Rebounding

This is an area that the Knicks must dominate. So much of their offense is built on 2nd-chance points, and they had only 6 offensive rebounds in Game 5. They cannot let any team in the NBA beat them on the boards because the Knicks need it for their offense. The Knicks averaged 16.3 2nd chance points per game and allowed just 12.3. When they play more potent offenses, this is the cleanest path for them to score more. The current roster lacks shooting from its forwards. Offensive put-backs and 2nd chance points are the best way to make up for that lack of production.

Game 6 is supposed to have a very similar atmosphere to Game 4. There is supposed to be a huge contingent of Knicks fans, and this will be beneficial in nerfing the Philly home-court advantage. The Knicks have to focus on the basics and not relax till the game is over. They should follow the game plan, and pay little attention to all the off-court noises (NBA last 2-minute report). They know they can win it. Now it’s all about execution.


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