76ers vs. Knicks: Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey both playing Game 2 as Philly tries to even playoff series


Philadelphia 76ers stars Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid will play Game 2 of their team’s first-round series against the New York Knicks on Monday night. Maxey is in the lineup despite an illness that had him listed as questionable. Embiid, who was also listed as questionable due to the knee injury he suffered in Game 1, is also suiting up. Maxey did not participate in the team’s shootaround on Monday morning according to ESPN. The 76ers are down in the series after dropping Game 1 on Saturday. 

Embiid landed awkwardly after a dunk on Saturday and had to be treated in the locker room at the end of the first half. He returned for the second half, but went 2-for-11 from the floor.  Still, the 76ers were +14 in the 37 minutes Embiid played and -21 in the 11 minutes with him on the bench.

Maxey, who is the favorite to win Most Improved Player this season after making his first All-Star game, was incredible in Philadelphia’s Game 1 defeat, finishing with 33 points and four assists on 14-of-26 from the field. 

He is the Sixers’ only perimeter player who can consistently create their own shot and put pressure on the defense. Furthermore, he’s their most reliable 3-point threat — 37.3% on 8.1 attempts per game overall and 44.4% on catch-and-shoot looks — and a key floor spacer around Embiid. For the season, the Sixers’ offensive rating with Maxey on the floor was 118.3 and plummeted to 109.3 when he sat, which was the biggest difference of any regular rotation player. 

The point is, the Sixers need Maxey to be at his best if they want to win this series against a physical Knicks defense that can overwhelm opponents at time. If Maxey and Embiid are both struggling, Game 2 figures to be an uphill battle for the Sixers. In NBA history, teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series go on to win it 92.7% of the time.

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