Terrible Loss. But Good News. 5 Reasons Why Philadelphia 99 NY 96 on 3-16-21

Well that sucked. A terrible loss. The Knicks entered the 4th quarter leading by 9 points. They seemed the better team — Philly without Joel Embiid; NY without Mitchell Robinson, Derrick Rose, and Elfrid Payton.

Philly had Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry; the Knicks had Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley.Β  The Knicks defense was haranguing Philly; making them fight for every shot. It looked like a Knick win. And then it wasn’t.

Reasons why:

1. Knicks Couldn’t Knock Down Key Shots

It all came down to a final shot — or two — again for the Knicks, as it had the night before vs the Nets. In this game the Knicks held the lead throughout the night, but Philly took the lead with 5 minutes left on a Seth Curry 3 and kept it. Immanuel Quickley attempted a 3 to tie the game with 12 seconds left but missed; Julius Randle grabbed the offensive rebound sent it to Reggie Bullock in the left corner on a harried play but Reggie’s foot stepped out of bounds as he shot. Game over.

The Knicks missed several key jumpers down the stretch: example RJ Barrett in the lane that could have tied the game with 20 seconds left was one.

2. Harris Killed the Knicks

If there was one guy who killed the Knicks down the stretch it was Tobias Harris. He was able to drive into the lane, and get his shot off and score time after time. RJ Barrett tried to guard him but Harris is clever. He finished with 30 points on 11-20 shooting. Tough. He’s been tough for years — we first saw him besting Carmelo Anthony years ago when Melo was still a Knick; the first sign that Tobias Harris was going to be very good. He is. Wally Sczerbiak said on the broadcast that Harris should have been an all star this year.

3. Rivers vs Thibodeau

Philly matched the Knicks defense with their own intense defense down the stretch. I’ve always felt that Tom Thibodeau was the secret sauce to Boston’s 2009 championship, when they brought 3 All Stars together for the first time and won immediately — unheard of in the NBA until that time. It used to take years for a team to come together but Boston played scintillating defense from the start that year. Thibodeau was the genius of that behind the scenes; Boston hired him that summer to be the Defensive assistant coach. Doc Rivers had won 23 games the year before (without 2 of the stars — Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett; he only had Paul Pierce). When Rivers moved to Los Angeles to coach the Clippers, we found out how good a coach he is; without Thibodeau, he turned the Clippers into an elite team. And now Philly. So this game was an interesting match of Rivers vs Thibodeau.

4. The Better-3-Pt-Shooting Curry

The rumors were so strong years ago that the Knicks were looking at trading for Seth Curry that I thought he was a former Knick for a while. Back when Seth was not regarded as much; the brother of the famous star who wasn’t nearly as good — like Thanasis Antetokounmpo. But as the years passed Seth Curry has gotten better and better and become a better marksman than his brother! Seth is shooting .442 from 3 this year, and shot .452 last year and .450 in 2018-19, .424 in 2017-18, and .450 in 2016-17. Those numbers are better than his brother’s in every year. He’s averaging 13.0 ppg this year.

Seth hit some shots from deep outside that killed the Knicks last night including a 4-pt play in the 4th and the 3 that put Philly ahead. He finished 7-14 (4-7 from 3) for 20 pts.

5. Knicks Tired, Injured, No Point Guard

The Knicks looked tired in the 4th quarter last night. One of the reasons they missed key shots. Julius Randle took a HARD fall to the floor when he went up for a layup but got BLOCKED by Dwight Howard late in the 3rd quarter, and had logged over 40 minutes in the TOUGH last-second loss to the Nets the night before.

Howard by the way had 11 pts and 12 rebounds and a +7. Randle had 19 pts (on 7-19), 15 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Nerlens Noel played well; 4 blocks.

RJ Barrett had 17 pts (on 7-17), 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. He often faced off against big Ben Simmons (16 pts on 8-14 shooting, 13 rebounds, 7 assists).

Simmons is of course a point guard, and the Knicks didn’t have any of theirs present. As mentioned at the top, Elfrid Payton and Derrick Rose are out injured, and with Quickley really a shooting guard playing point for most of the evening, and Frank Ntilikina a ‘glue guard’ — Thibodeau played Alec Burks at the point for a good part of the 4th quarter. The Knicks did not have the lane penetration they normally have with Payton and/or Rose.

Good News

A tough loss. A terrible loss. A 2nd straight night of a last-second, close loss. But the Knicks continue to show they can play with the best teams in the NBA. Their young Dynamic Duo of Julius Randle and RJ Barrett is a foundation to build on. They have a great coach. Mitchell Robinson may be a player that joins that Dynamic Duo as a key piece. They have Quickley, a nice piece. They are probably another elite piece away from being a title-contending team — that piece probably being an elite point guard although Elfrid Payton and Derrick Rose are certainly holding down that position well right now. The Future is All Green for the NY Knicks.

The Boxscore


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