You have to hand it to these Sixers.
Missing five players — including their three-highest paid — they gave the Knicks all they could handle before ultimately falling, 103-96, at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night.
There’s not much to say here. Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, and Isaiah Joe are all in the league’s health and safety protocols. Ben Simmons (personal reasons) remains out. In a season where the Sixers have been able to overcome a whole lot, they almost pulled off another incredible win but came up short.
The Sixers dropped to 8-3 and have no time to feel bad for themselves as Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending champion Bucks are in town tomorrow,
Here are a few takeaways from Monday’s game.
- Seth Curry continued his ridiculous start to the season, hitting his first three shots. It seemed clear that Curry was the guy the Knicks highlighted on the scouting report — and for good reason. New York really limited Curry after that as the guard only took two more shots in the half — and missed both.
- There was a little bit of a scary moment for the Sixers in the first quarter. Tyrese Maxey was going for a loose ball when there was a collision with a couple different players. The Sixers came away with the ball, but Maxey was flexing his right shoulder for the next possession. Maxey, who has played a ton of minutes with the team so shorthanded, made a three a few minutes later. Hopefully, he’s good.
- The Sixers continued to play strong team defense, a big part of what’s fueled their six-game winning streak. Some of New York’s playmakers made some good plays, but the Sixers deserve credit for flying around and rotating well, even when they’re stretched as a defense.
- With that said, the team’s offense really started sputtering at the end of the first quarter. It felt like the Knicks pushed the pace on every stop. The Sixers looked tired. They shot just 31.8 percent as a team in the period
- The Sixers hung in there for a bit. Georges Niang missed his first three attempts from three but drove to the rim and willed himself to a bucket. Paul Reed continued to provide energy for a team that desperately needed it.
- The Knicks built a double-digit lead with 8:22 left in the second quarter. The strategy continued to be to run the shorthanded Sixers off the court.
- This game got ugly in a hurry. The Sixers weren’t getting many looks. The ones they were getting they weren’t connecting on. Being down five players is just too big of an ask. Furkan Korkmaz had 16 points in the half, but the Sixers shot 35.4 percent as a team. They trailed 58-44 heading into the locker room.
- The Sixers showed life to start the second half. Andre Drummond, who was relatively quiet in the first half, was extremely active to start the third. He had a pair of blocks, was hitting the offensive glass and made an excellent pass on a Danny Green three which cut the Knicks’ lead to under double digits. Green, who is capable of getting hot at a moment’s notice, buried another three to suddenly make it a five-point game.
- Maxey has played a gaziilion minutes over the last few games (you can check my math on that) but is still giving this team all he has. He’s just 4 of 11 from the field with one assist, but he has seven rebounds and is picking up Kemba Walker full court. Sixers showed a lot of guts in the third.
- Wow. Amazing sequence from Drummond. He blocks a shot at one end, then hustles down the other end to gather an offensive rebound, which he kicked out to Maxey, who found Curry for a corner three to bring the Sixers within three. Nerlens Noel was forced to miss the second half with a knee injury and Drummond took advantage.
Dre with the rebound, Rese with the pass and Curry with the clutch corner three. pic.twitter.com/6YscYm017t— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 9, 2021
- What else can you say about this group? The Knicks looked like they had this thing wrapped up at the half. The Sixers managed to get it to the three points heading into the fourth. There are no moral victories, but this was one hell of an effort.
- Georges Niang drives are not pretty, but they’ve been effective to start the season. For the second straight game, the threes weren’t falling (0 of 4), but he found other ways to contribute. It’s clear that Niang is probably being stretched a little too thin with Harris still out.
- Certainly, credit goes to the Knicks’ defense, but the Sixers missed quite a few shots that were good looks and really could’ve swung the game.
- You cannot stop Georges Niang, you can only hope to contain him. Niang nailed a huge three to bring the Sixers within one with 5:01 left in the game. This team just won’t go away. And Niang’s fire is definitely endearing him to Sixers fans.
- The Sixers just couldn’t get enough stops down the stretch. Julius Randle hit a pair of threes and Walker made a tough and-one floater to just about seal the game.
- Drummond finished with 25(!) rebounds and 14 points. Korkmaz had just three points in the second half, but finished with a team-high 19. The Sixers had four players play nearly forty minutes Monday: Drummond, Maxey, Curry and Korkmaz. This upcoming stretch is going to be rough.