The of Tyrese Maxey

The of Tyrese Maxey
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A quarter of a century has passed (1999 Conference final, against the ) since the last time the Knicks made it through a playoff round in front of their home crowd, in that Madison Square Garden where Tonight an atavistic, seismic roar ended up fading into an icy, deathly silence. This is what the playoffs are like and this is how this first round series is going, Knicks-Sixers, which has in its blood the great rivalries of the Atlantic, the historic duels of the East Coast.

It is a DNA of suffering, a basketball of showing your teeth in the trenches. To win by surviving… or by being the last to find out that he has died. That’s exactly what the Sixers did, literally from the scaffold: 106-112, 3-2 now for the Knicks and boilerplate drama, behind and ahead: tomorrow, game six in Philadelphia. If the Sixers win again, everything will be decided on Saturday back in the Madison den, the most famous cricket cage in the world.

Whoever is still standing will win. In this tie, and adapting a war maxim from Patton, he does not win dying for the cause but doing let the other die for his. Whoever makes the last mistake after an endless stream of them will lose. Whoever scores the basket that perhaps shouldn’t even go in, the one that doesn’t know where it comes from, will surely be the one who wins. Then, the future will come for those who live, with their bodies crushed. Because this series seems like the end of the world but it’s just (only?) a first round crossover. Or not. Because the Knicks haven’t played at home in a quarter of a century. Then Jalen Brunson’s father, Rick, played on the team and Tom Thibodeau was an assistant meritorious. 25 years later, everything was ready to break one of those intimate curses that darken the shadow of a franchise determined to never make things easy for itself. Not this time either, not even with everything in favor. With the job, apparently, done.

In the second game, to make it 2-0, the Knicks inexplicably escaped from a -5 (from 96-101 to 104-101) in the last 27 seconds. Penitence changed direction in the fifth, with 4-1 on the tip of the tongue and in an even more astonishing way. in one of those moments that end up being, by force, playoff history. One that the Philadelphia press will name if his team ends up passing the tie, becoming the 14th in history to come back from 3-1 down. With 28 seconds left, the Knicks led 96-90 and they stretched their jersey to cross the finish line with their arms raised. But there, in the jaws of defeat, Tyrese Maxey invented a 3+1 (96-94) with 25 seconds left. Josh Hart then only scored a free throw (97-94) and Maxey, once again, raised the ball and, calmly, with the coldness of someone who no longer feels his nerve endings because he has both feet in the grave, got up from almost eleven meters and, on the New York letters on the Madison hardwood, he scored an incredible triple: 97-97 with 8 seconds left.

There were seven points in 16 seconds, immediately silence and the head, inevitably, on the legendary eight points in nine seconds of Reggie Miller, one of Madison’s great historical enemies. A night in which the Pacers came back from a game that the Knicks had won (the first of the second round in 1995) and ended up relying on him to overcome the series. A wound that still hurts and was reopened tonight: Jalen Brunson, Sunday’s hero, could not escape the last play of Nico Batum, a veteran with his body stitched by war scars. In overtime, Brunson scored five points (102-97) but Maxey once again twisted the script with another triple (102-100), the first stone of a 0-9 run (102-106) in which Joel Embiid redeemed with four points, just in time. Brunson, who ended up playing almost 52 minutes, dug deep into a rabbit hat. But the Knicks lost, as if it were written, and have to return to Phildelphia. For them, the path is never straight.

Maxey, one of those point guards that John Calipari has been manufacturing in Kentucky in the mold of the modern NBA, is 23 years old and this season he has gone from being an agitator on James Harden’s team to Joel Embiid to becoming the helmsman of a Sixers team that try to reorganize around the Cameroonian center without taking steps back. This year, Maxey has been an all star and Most Improved Player, and in the summer he will sign an extension of more than 200 million that today seems more justified than ever. In addition to those seven points in 16 seconds and the triple that revived his team in overtime, the exercise of faith with which he saved his team’s season had lasted almost from the initial jump: a wild mix, with spurs, of talent and courage, especially after the break, when he scored 26 points and distributed 6 assists. He finished with 46, 9 and 5 rebounds. 17/30 in shots and 5/6 in triples. And more than 52 minutes on the track. Without him, there is nothing more, the Sixers would already be on vacation amid deeply uncomfortable debates about Embiid.

Tobias Harris (19 points, 8 rebounds) played a very good game, without that coldness that makes his talent so often go unnoticed. Kelly Oubre, doubtful until the last minute, and Nico Batum gave their all in defense, arms for miles around Brunson, and scored 22 points between the two of them. And Embiid struggled on the court, had a horrible time and ended up finding light in overtime, with points and defensive presence. A problem for his team for many minutes, consumed by his demons and an endless list of physical problems to which he added morning migraines, he rowed just enough once Maxey had saved him. He owes her one. One of the greats. He finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists, 7/19 shooting and 9 turnovers, many of which were perfectly avoidable. Tomorrow, he will return to the torture chamber: redemption or hecatomb, the mantra that he ends up defining, or so it seems, each of his playoff nights.

The Knicks have two bullets left, the second and final one again at home, and they have plenty of spirit not to break after a blow that would kill almost anyone. The printed ticket to the Eastern Semifinals vanished as the conductor appeared in his hallway. Now we have to win another game, a matter at once so minuscule and so monumental, and to do so in a philosophy of absolute survival: Bojan Bogdanovic’s absence from the entire playoffs confirmed, Thibodeau played the fifth game with a rotation of seven in which three players exceeded 50 minutes. It’s going to be agonizing, a matter of sheer will when there are no legs or oxygen left. But that, for these Knicks, is not exactly bad because that is their habitat.

Brunson finished with 40 points and 6 assists on 15/32 shooting. When no one could take it anymore, the Knicks’ attack was reduced to their heroic attempts. And he was almost worth it. Only ten players have shot more than him (148) in the first five playoff games. But only one (the massive Westbrook of 2017, 152) has done it after 1990. With fewer offensive rebounds and the deep pain of two missed free throws while Maxey worked his (one from Anunoby and another from Hart in the last minute ), the Knicks went from euphoria to tragedy in 48 hours and Madison, from roar to silence in a handful of seconds. Now, at 3-2, they are only a little more alive than their rival. Or a little less dead. And tomorrow, giant game in Philadelphia.

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Statistics

18

Alec Burke

8

OG Anunoby

3

Josh Hart

55

Isaiah Hartenstein

0

Donte DiVincenzo

23

Mitchell Robinson

eleven

Jalen Brunson

13

Shake Milton

twenty-one

Da Quan Jeffries

4

Charlie Brown Jr.

5

Precious Achiuwa

25

Mamadi Diakite

Four. Five

Jericho Sims

2

Miles McBride

1

Duane Washington Jr.

0

Jacob Toppin

Statistics

min Pts RT R.O. RD Ast Per rec Tap T1 T2 T3 FR F.C. Val 18

Alec Burke

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 8

OG Anunoby

fifty 17 6 1 5 0 4 2 1 1/2 5/7 2/5 0 3 0 3

Josh Hart

53 18 9 0 9 4 2 0 1 3/5 6/11 1/6 0 2 0 55

Isaiah Hartenstein

26 6 7 2 5 4 2 1 1 4/4 1/2 0/0 0 3 0 0

Donte DiVincenzo

25 9 4 0 4 1 0 0 2 2/2 23 1/7 0 3 0 23

Mitchell Robinson

25 2 7 3 4 0 1 3 2 0/2 1/2 0/0 0 3 0 eleven

Jalen Brunson

fifty 40 3 0 3 6 4 3 0 6/9 11/21 4/11 0 3 0 13

Shake Milton

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 twenty-one

Da Quan Jeffries

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 4

Charlie Brown Jr.

-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 5

Precious Achiuwa

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 25

Mamadi Diakite

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 Four. Five

Jericho Sims

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 2

Miles McBride

33 14 4 0 4 4 1 1 1 0/0 4/4 2/7 0 2 0 1

Duane Washington Jr.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0

Jacob Toppin

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0

Statistics

7

Kyle Lowry

40

Nicolas Batum

12

Tobias Harris

twenty-one

Joel Embiid

9

Kelly Oubre Jr.

22

Cameron Payne

17

Buddy Hield

5

Mo Bamba

8

De’Anthony Melton

0

Tyrese Maxey

1

Kenyon Martin Jr.

44

Paul Reed

eleven

Jeff Dowtin Jr.

23

Terquavion Smith

16

Ricky Council IV

Statistics

min Pts RT R.O. RD Ast Per rec Tap T1 T2 T3 FR F.C. Val 7

Kyle Lowry

26 0 2 0 2 5 0 2 0 0/0 0/1 0/3 0 5 0 40

Nicolas Batum

33 8 8 2 6 1 2 0 1 0/0 1/2 2/6 0 3 0 12

Tobias Harris

49 19 8 2 6 1 0 0 1 2/2 4/5 3/6 0 2 0 twenty-one

Joel Embiid

47 19 16 5 eleven 10 9 1 4 4/6 6/15 1/4 0 3 0 9

Kelly Oubre Jr.

39 14 4 2 2 0 1 2 1 23 6/10 0/3 0 3 0 22

Cameron Payne

13 6 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 2/5 0 2 0 17

Buddy Hield

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 5

Mo Bamba

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 8

De’Anthony Melton

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 0

Tyrese Maxey

51 46 5 0 5 9 3 0 0 5/8 10/18 7/12 0 5 0 1

Kenyon Martin Jr.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 44

Paul Reed

3 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 0 0/0 0/1 0/0 0 0 0 eleven

Jeff Dowtin Jr.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 23

Terquavion Smith

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0 16

Ricky Council IV

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0 0 0
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