NBA exec critical of Knicks’ season finale win, picks 76ers to win first-round series in 7

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) slaps hands with guard Jalen Brunson (11) during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks could have sat their stars and taken a loss in the final game of the regular season to set up a matchup with the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the 2024 NBA Playoffs. Instead, they took the harder road by running through the tape and solidifying their slot as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. But with that has come a more trying matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.

NBA exec doesn’t think smaller Knicks can fend off 76ers for the rest of the series

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Despite that, the Knicks own a 2-0 series lead, but one NBA executive believes they will still lose in seven games to the Joel Embiid-led Sixers. He cited their regular season finale win and lack of size as two major reasons why they won’t advance to the conference semifinals, per Geoff Magliocchetti of Fan Nation’s All Knicks:

“This one can really go either way. I’ll go Sixers in seven,” the executive said. “New York is going to be playing tired, playing the way they’re playing. They are still small. They’re fighters, but they’re small. No Julius (Randle). They’ve got nobody for Embiid. (Isaiah) Hartenstein is not going to do anything for Embiid. I think it’s going to be Sixers.”

Knicks have opportunity to pick up big series win over Sixers and boost team confidence

The Knicks’ frontcourt has contained the reigning league MVP as best they could through two games. They held him to 8-22 shooting in Game 1, albeit Embiid’s left knee injury factored into his slow second half.

Hartenstein and company also came up big on the offensive glass down the stretch of Game 2, which helped them steal another win and defend home court. While Hartenstein has started for New York, they also have Mitchell Robinson on the bench whom they can throw at Embiid, and a big body in Jericho Sims for sparing minutes.

NBA: Playoffs-Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As for not avoiding Philadelphia and trying to target a perceivably weaker Pacers team, that may not have gone the way the unnamed front office member sees it. Indiana picked up a big 125-108 road win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2, knotting their series up at 1-1. The Knicks have now found themselves in a position where potentially defeating the 76ers could boost their morale and chemistry heading into the second round, especially without Julius Randle.

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