Knicks fans, this is just the beginning of an intense and wild playoff roller coaster ride – New York Post

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Knicks fans, this is just the beginning of an intense and wild playoff roller coaster ride – New York Post

Mike Vaccaro

NBA

Be ready. Be ready. Make sure to hydrate before these games, however many they may be in the coming weeks and months. Make sure you have maybe a shot glass or two of Maalox on hand. The Knicks won the game 111-104, but you had to look at the score at the end to make sure it was real, right?

This is what it will look like. This is how it’s going to happen. You will live. You will die. You will throw cushions at the television. You risk hitting your head on the basement ceiling, if it’s low enough. The Knicks were dead. Then they drove. Then they were dead again.

Then: here they are, one last time. Joel Embiid had done a wonderful Willis Reed impersonation during the second half, serving primarily as a decoy and doing it well enough to bring his 76ers back from the brink. It was 91-90, Knicks, and the 19,812 people at Madison Square Garden who had filled the old gymnasium with a vintage roar for two full hours had fallen silent.

Josh Hart celebrates after scoring a big 3-pointer in the Knicks’ 111-104 Game 1 win over the 76ers. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post
Jalen Brunson wasn’t at the forefront of the win but still contributed. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

Then Josh Hart hit a 3.

Later, he hit another one.

Later still: another.

Josh Hart? Hart is a grinder. He’s a scammer. It’s a double-double dynamo. It’s not Steph Curry. Is he the Knicks’ fifth most preferable option out of 3? Their sixth? It didn’t matter. This night, he wanted the shots. He was the one who took the photos. The Knicks needed someone to make plays, to make those shots, to give them a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven.

“He was a monster today,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

“He stepped up today,” Jalen Brunson said of his buddy Hart.

Miles McBride scores two of his 21 points in the Knicks’ victory. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

He did. He had to. Deuce McBride also stepped up, because he had to, and so he scored 16 points in the first half to reach 21 and an astonishing plus-37. Mitch Robinson did it, because he had to, and he took advantage of a clearly hobbled Embiid, eight points, 12 rebounds and four blocks, his own plus-20 for the game.

The Knicks did all this despite Brunson having one of his worst games as a Knick, missing 18 of 26 shots and five of six 3s, turning the ball over five times, looking a slow step on both ends of the court. It’s not often that the Knicks will overcome a minus-three score. They did it this time. They won’t want to make a habit of it.

“It’s a 48-minute game,” Thibodeau said. “We started the game slowly, but everything changed slowly when the bench came.”

It’s funny too. For weeks, Knicks fans worried about the bench, how leads would quickly disappear every time Brunson left the game. Saturday was exactly the opposite. Part of the reason is that the Knicks took advantage of Embiid’s time on the bench; they outscored the Sixers by 21 points while Embiid was not in the game.

Mitchell Robinson plays tight defense against Joel Embiid in Knicks win. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

McBride was a big part of that, grabbing his first real playoff opportunity, draining five of seven from deep. So did Bojan Bogdanovic, who was huge early in the second half as the Knicks fought back from a quick 32-19 hole.

“You have to be ready for your moment,” said Bogdanovic, 13 points and seven rebounds in 25 high-level minutes. “You never know when it’s going to happen.”

The Sixers entered the game on a nine-game winning streak, pulled off an emotional 105-104 win over the Heat in the play-in game and fed Embiid on nearly every possession. Embiid had 15 points in the first quarter and, to almost everyone inside the Garden looking through hands covering their eyes in fear, he looked as healthy as a horse.

Then he was on the ground after dunking his own heave into the glass, and you could see that fear transfer from the Garden’s denizens to Embiid’s own eyes (and passing to the fans who cheered when he fell: do better ; we are better). than this here). He staggered off the field. The Knicks took a 12-point lead at halftime.

Bojan Bogdanovic celebrates after making a shot during the Knicks’ victory. Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But Embiid came back. He played 19 minutes in the second half on one leg, without any recovery. He didn’t make a field goal in the fourth quarter. But he wanted to, and Willis pushed his teammates, especially Kyle Lowry, who scored 12 straight points and brought the 76ers all the way back, and brought the Knicks to the precipice of crisis.

“We can’t wait until we’re down 10 to start playing,” Hart said after putting his game-tying 22 points and 13 rebounds in the books. “We are resilient. I guess we just like to make things difficult for ourselves.

They avoided the crisis. They survived. And you too. Maybe you’ll experience that again with the Rangers on Sunday. Maybe by Monday you can relive it all: the highs, the lows, the anxiety, the exultation. This is what it will look like. This is how it’s going to happen.


Filed under

bojan bogdanovic
,

Joel Embiid
,

Josh Hart
,

miles mcbride
,

Mitchell Robinson
,

NBA playoffs
,

2024 NBA playoffs
,

new york knicks
,

Philadelphia 76ers
,

sports columnists
,

Tom Thibodeau
,
04/20/24



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