Studs no Duds: Knicks advance to the Conference Semi-Finals with thrilling win in Game 6

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts with guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) after scoring against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks were again in the Wells Fargo Center for a Game 6 against the Philadelphia 76ers. No better words exist as a basketball fan than “Game 7” until it is your favorite team competing in one. Following the conclusion of Game 5, many Knicks faithful were nervously optimistic about going back to Wells Fargo Center.

There was much more poise and awareness from the opening tip by the New York Knicks as they jumped out to a 24-9 lead behind big threes made by none other than Donte DiVincenzo. Add in another Jalen Brunson masterclass with Anunoby’s two-way brilliance, and you have yourself the recipe for success with the New York Knicks. Brunson led the Knicks to a crucial victory with a final score of 118–115.

Studs: The King of New York 

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after his three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after his three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Brunson is already the best Knicks player since Walt Frazier and has comfortably passed Carmelo Anthony for greatest modern Knicks player after a trilogy of epic proportions in the 2024 playoffs. Following a rough start to the series, Brunson bounced back huge with a 39 and 13 assist performance in Game 3. That was ultimately scratching the surface as in Games 4-6, Brunson averaged 42 points and nine assists as the “King of New York” propelled the Knicks to the next round on the road.

Brunson spoke following Game 5 on his leadership and how to be even better, as it showed in heightened cohesiveness from the Knicks unit in Game 6. The playoffs are where legends are made, and ‘The Blueprint’ Brunson went to work in the 4th quarter to put the 76ers to rest.

Brunson had 14 points on 75 TS% in the final period as a sequence of demoralizing back-to-back threes sealed the deal, and the patented fadeaway was the stamp as Brunson scored eight straight points and cemented himself again as a living legend in Knicks basketball history.

Studs: Donte DiVincenzo is back 

May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after a defensive stop against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 2, 2024; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after a defensive stop against the Philadelphia 76ers during the second half of game six of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There has not been more of a letdown this first round than the vanishing act of Donte DiVincenzo. In the final five games of the season, Donte averaged 20 points per game on 48%, as opposed to the first five games of the playoffs, his numbers dropped to nine points per game on 33% from the field. The sudden drop in production from DiVincenzo in the playoffs mirrored his time in Golden State but on this occasion, the difference maker was the cohesion that existed way before DiVincenzo was in a Knicks jersey.

The post-Game 5 comments from Brunson about being a better leader and making sure he’s his best so guys can be their best made its rounds, and the awareness surrounding what a Game 6 in Philadelphia meant was all too familiar with the former Wildcat prodigies. DiVincenzo scored 23 points and seven assists with five made threes. The absence of this production consistently from DiVincenzo puts a cap on the Knicks’ playoff hopes, as sustaining a leading scoring trio of Brunson, Hart, and OG will not be possible in the Eastern Conference finals.

The upcoming series against Indiana will be a tremendous test and a fresh slate for DiVincenzo to lay new ground and grow on his prestige built in his regular season brilliance.

OG Anunoby masterclass 

A two-way performance for the ages from Anunoby in Game 6 as he scored 19 points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. The most exciting aspect of Anunoby in Game 6 was his varying shot attempts. His abilities offensively are reminiscent of Kawhi Leonard, and when given the green light, Anunoby looks like the clear second option going forward.

Second on the team in scoring in 17 shot attempts, this is the balance to create sustainability the New York Knicks need to cultivate winning beyond the reliance on Donte DiVincenzo or Josh Hart playing above their roles offensively. Relying on either of them to be the team’s clear-cut second option in the playoffs would be malpractice, and Anunoby made his presence known with emphasis in Game 6.

Takeaways/Overview from the Knicks’ victory over the 76ers

The game plan from New York in Game 6 lived up to the expectations. Like a game of chess, players were put in the best position to win and be most productive, with an offensive hierarchy built behind Jalen Brunson. Donte DiVincenzo played his best game of the series on the road, while Josh Hart continued to be the glue, scoring 16 points, seven assists, and a team-high 14 rebounds.

Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson combined for 18 rebounds while containing the reigning MVP, Joel Embiid down low. Head Coach Tom Thibodeau and staff have assembled a rotation of Gladiators that have the ability this season to shock the basketball world with sustainability and proper execution.

New York, middle of the pack over the last five games in defensive rating, is expected to play much better not having to contain, and game plan around the reigning MVP Joel Embiid. The Indiana Pacers are waiting in the second round, and not having seen New York with Anunoby or Mitchell Robinson this season, jumping out the gate like New York did in Game 6 would set the tone for the series against a Pacers team with more young pieces.

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