Tyrese Maxey Outduels Jalen Brunson To Give The Sixers A Season-Saving Win In Game 5

The Philadelphia 76ers will live to fight another day. In what might go down as the best game of the 2024 NBA playoffs, Philly walked into Madison Square Garden and won an overtime thriller against the New York Knicks, 112-106, as each team’s All-Star point guard put on a show.

The Sixers came out and looked like a team that was fighting for its postseason life. While they were certainly aided by a bad quarter from the Knick offense — which shot 38.9 percent from the field, didn’t make any threes, had five turnovers, and got kept off of the offensive glass — Philadelphia book ended the frame with a pair of runs. Right away, the Sixers rushed out to a 10-2 lead, and after New York managed to make things close, the quarter ended with Philly scoring eight points in a row to hold onto a 26-17 lead.

It took about two and a half minutes in the second quarter for the lead to disappear because of a years-long issue for the Sixers: Joel Embiid heading to the bench. As the former league MVP sat and watched, New York was able to tie things up by going on an 11-2 run right out of the gates in the second.

Even after Embiid came back in, the Knicks were able to stay hot to take their first lead of the game behind another 11-2 run that had the Garden rocking.

While the Knicks were able to get their lead up to double-digits, the Sixers were able to get into a bit of a rhythm at the very end of the quarter, which meant New York took a 49-43 lead into the locker room at halftime. Brunson’s 15 points led the Knicks, while Deuce McBride provided another eight off the bench and both OG Anunoby and Josh Hart went for seven points and three rebounds. For Philadelphia, Tyrese Maxey’s 15 points led the way, with Tobias Harris pitching in 10. Embiid struggled from the field, going 3-for-10, but nearly had a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds.

The third quarter had a very similar start to the first, as Philadelphia once again came out and played like a team with its back against the wall. Instead of wilting, the Sixers ripped off a 12-2 run which let them take the lead away thanks in large part to Maxey.

But all series long, we’ve seen both of these teams take punches from the other, get knocked down, get off the mat, and throw some haymakers of their own. Immediately after Philadelphia took the lead, New York responded, and the rest of the quarter was defined by an inability from either side to open up a comfortable lead. While the Knicks held a 70-69 lead after three and the Garden was as raucous as it was during any point of the series, the Sixers always seemed to have something for them to keep them within reach.

Nick Nurse opted to keep Embiid and Maxey on the floor to start the fourth, and while Maxey still had something left in the tank, Embiid clearly looked out of it. Whether it was his knee or just general fatigue, the reigning NBA MVP had a hard time dealing with a hyper-aggressive Knicks squad.

After a timeout following the turnover that led to that McBride bucket, Nurse went ultra-small and took Embiid off the floor, as he rolled out a lineup with Maxey, Kyle Lowry, Kelly Oubre, Harris, and Nic Batum. The gambit didn’t help Philadelphia cut into the lead — New York went from up by three points to up by five in the 1:12 that Embiid got a breather — but that rest made it so Embiid could play the remainder of the game.

As the teams went down the stretch, Brunson and Maxey did what they could to carry their respective teams. With just under 100 seconds left, an Embiid turnover turned into an Anunoby dunk that put the Knicks up by five, but Maxey came right back down and scored to keep it a one possession game … but unfortunately for him, Brunson came right back down and hit a jumper.

The teams traded buckets before the apparent dagger came. With just under 30 seconds left, the Sixers attempted to trap Brunson near midcourt while the shot clock was winding down. He was able to get the ball to McBride, though, who had a totally wide open jumper from the free throw line that he drilled.

And yet the Sixers would not die. The door got cracked open by Maxey converting a 4-point play to get the lead down to two, and after Hart split a pair of free throws, Maxey got the ball once again, pulled up for the logo, and forced overtime.

Brunson landed the first haymakers of overtime, as he scored the first five points of the opening frame before Maxey came down and drilled a three of his own. That triple by Maxey kicked off a run for Philly, as the team scored nine points in a row to go up, 106-102.

The Knicks’ drought got broken by a Flagrant 1 foul by Embiid on Brunson, who split a pair of free throws before drilling a three to tie things up. A bucket by Oubre with a minute left helped the Knicks go back up, and after both teams turned the ball over, the Knicks had the ball with less than 30 seconds left and a chance to go ahead. Instead, a miscommunication by Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein led to yet another turnover, which led to a foul and Harris hitting both of his efforts from the charity stripe to give Philadelphia a two-possession lead that they would not lose.

Maxey might get a statue in the City of Brotherly Love for his performance, as he went for 46 points, nine assists, and five rebounds. Harris had 19 and eight rebounds, and while Embiid didn’t have his best night (7-for-19 shooting, nine turnovers), he still went for 19 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, and five blocks. The Knicks were led by Brunson’s 40 points, six assists, three rebounds, and three steals. Hart (18 points), Anunoby (17 points), and McBride (14 points) also scored in double-figures.

Now, the teams will head down to Philadelphia for Game 6, where the Sixers will look to defend their homecourt and improbably send the series back to New York for a winner-take-all matchup.