Joel Embiid declares 76ers will still win series vs. Knicks despite 0-2 hole

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) shoots the ball as New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (23) defends during the first half during game two of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid is not fretting about the team’s 0-2 deficit against the New York Knicks in their 2024 NBA Playoffs first-round series thus far. After the 76ers dropped their second loss to the Knicks on the road on Monday, he told reporters that Philadelphia will still win the series, per PHLY Sixers on X:

“We should be [ahead] 2-0. We’re good. We’re going to win this series,” Embiid said. “We are going to win this. We know what we gotta fix and we did a better job today, so we are going to fix it. We are the better team, we are going to keep fighting.”

Knicks aren’t running away with the series against the 76ers despite 2-0 lead

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers, knicks, joel embiid
May 5, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) against the Boston Celtics during game three of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The league’s reigning MVP from the 2022-23 NBA season is not delusional in his thinking, despite the Knicks clearly being the better team while defending their home court.

The Knicks’ five-point margin of victory has not been astronomical. Further, Philadelphia has been able to amass 100 points in each game thus far, which is rather high in the playoffs against the Knicks’ championship-level defense.

Tyrese Maxey’s superstar play has given Joel Embiid confidence and the Knicks cause for concern

Additionally, Embiid is getting superstar-quality support from Tyrese Maxey. The 2024 All-Star is averaging 34 points, seven assists, and 5.5 rebounds through the first two games, on the road that is.

Embiid may have been referring to rebounding and Tobias Harris’ play as areas the Sixers need to fix

New York has a major advantage over Philadelphia on the glass. The Knicks (50.5 rebounds per game) are winning the rebounding battle against the 76ers (38.5 RPG) by an average of 12 boards per game.

NBA: New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers
Jan 5, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) defends a shot from Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) in the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

That’s likely one of the areas Embiid alluded to in his post-game comments. Also, Tobias Harris has struggled mightily thus far. He’s putting up a mere 8.5 PPG on 38.9% from the field. He’s desperately needed as an elite third option for Sixers head coach Nick Nurse. Though, for yet another playoff series, he’s greatly underperforming. That is likely another area Embiid wants to see change in individually.

How the series looks heading into Game 3

Yet, both teams are deadlocked in steals (5.5 SPG) and blocks (6.5 BPG), with only one turnover separating the two. To their credit, Philadelphia (43.6%) is shooting 3.5% better than New York (40.1%) from the field.

While the Sixers look to gain momentum in their first game at home in Game 3, the Knicks have created a blueprint on how to contain the injured Embiid and his 76ers.

The main point of focus for the Knicks in their next outing will be to make sure that Embiid and Maxey don’t get hot early. Moreover, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau will have to continue making life as difficult as possible for Embiid while he tries to regain strength in his left knee.

If these things are achieved, the Knicks can take a convincing 3-0 series lead and shut the door on the Sixers and Embiid’s confidence.

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