New York played arguably their best 1st Quarter of the season to start this game. They outscored Philadelphia 31-18, holding the 76ers to 30% shooting from the field. RJ Barrett led the charge for the Knicks in their hot start, scoring 10 of his 18 points in the first. The Knicks strong defense in the 1st Quarter continued in the 2nd and only allowed the 76ers to score 21 points. However, the Knicks offense fell off significantly, only scoring 20 points and shooting a poor 36.8% from the field (they shot 55% in the 1st Quarter). New York’s gritty defense propelled them to a 12 point lead at the half (the Knicks recorded a team defensive rating of 83 in the 1st Half). Marcus Morris Sr. and RJ Barrett both posted incredible defensive ratings of 54.8 and 69.7 respectively in the 1st Half. Morris Sr. also added 12 points and 6 rebounds at the half. Julius Randle also bolstered the Knicks on both sides of the floor in the 1st Half, contributing 11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and a defensive rating of 74.3. It was a tale of two halves for the Knicks. The 76ers outscored the Knicks 62 to 44 in the 2nd Half, pushing them to a 6 point victory. The two major differences in the 2nd Half were the 76ers shooting 5-8 from three-point and 21-24 from the foul line. The Knicks only shot 1-8 from three and 11-18 from the charity stripe. That’s a differential of 22 points! The big 3 for the 76ers compiled of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris paved the way for Philadelphia’s victory, combining for 61 points. James Ennis III energized the 76ers off the bench, scoring 20 points (18 in the 2nd Half). The Knicks starting 5 all contributed good games for New York, scoring 77 of the Knicks 95 points and the only player to post a negative +- was Taj Gibson, posting a -4. However, the Knicks bench played poorly, although Damyean Dotson added 10 points and Mitchell Robinson racked in 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Why The Knicks Lost
It was the same story for the Knicks in this one, not contesting the three-point line, sending the opposition to the line too often, and having stagnant ball movement in the 2nd Half. Philadelphia shot 5-8 from three and 21-24 from the line in the 2nd Half. Coach Fizdale suggested the Knicks need to make 300 or more passes a game to have proper ball movement. The Knicks only produced 271 passes in this contest and only recorded 14 assists (just 4 assists in the 2nd Half).
These Knicks have proven that they can compete with the majority of the NBA, however they have not shown that they can improve upon their weaknesses. They have had issues guarding opponents from downtown, fouling too much, and not moving the ball freely on offense. New York will need to play with more “trust” on offense and defense, along with beginning to shoot a higher free throw percentage; to start winning close games, like this one.