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Knicks vs. 76ers Game 3 prediction: NBA Playoffs odds, picks, best bets for Thursday



The New York Knicks staged a thrilling rally after trailing the Philadelphia 76ers by five points with less than one minute to play in Game 2 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round playoff series. 

The Knicks scored eight points in 27 seconds to escape with a 104-101 victory

A day later, the NBA conceded New York was aided by non-calls on multiple fouls and the failure by referees to grant a requested timeout.

It’s safe to say the 76ers won’t be in the best of moods as they return home Thursday, down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Knicks analysis

The Knicks are up 2-0 in the series despite shooting worse from the floor in both games than the 76ers.

Per NBA’s Advanced Stats, the Knicks’ starters rank 14th in field goal percentage (39.3 percent) in the postseason.

While the team hasn’t shot the ball particularly well, the bench has performed better than the starters, ranking sixth in field goal percentage (42.6 percent).

The Knicks’ reserves are tied for second with 29 points per game.

We’d generally expect bench players to perform better at home with the crowd behind them. However, those performances don’t always transfer over when teams hit the road in a hostile environment.

The Knicks will need to get more out of point guard Jalen Brunson, who has almost twice as many shot attempts (27.5) as any other player on the Knicks, but is shooting just 29.1 percent from the floor. 

Brunson is just 2-of-12 from beyond the arc and hasn’t been quite as effective getting to the basket with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid patrolling the paint.

It’s worth noting that while all three wins against the 76ers during the regular season were by double digits, Embiid was inactive for two of those games. 

OG Anunoby of the New York Knicks heads for the net as Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers defends during the second half in game one of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at MSG on April 20, 2024. Getty Images

76ers analysis

We can’t understate the impact of Embiid on Philadelphia’s overall success.

In Game 1, he wasn’t close to 100 percent and still registered 29 points. When he went to the locker room with 2:37 remaining in the first half after tweaking his knee, the Knicks ended the quarter on a 9-0 run. 

The reigning MVP looked better in Game 2, finishing with 34 points in 39 minutes. And after playing two games in three days, he should benefit from an extra day of rest.

While the Knicks’ bench deserves plenty of credit for its performance in the first two games, the 76ers’ role players were almost missing in action.

Philadelphia’s bench is tied for last in playoff scoring, averaging just 8.5 points. Perhaps the venue change will be enough to help the 76ers’ reserves regain their shooting touch.

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Knicks vs. 76ers Game 3 prediction

The NBA’s admittance of multiple errors by its officials backed up the 76ers’ complaints, and that vindication might only serve to fire them up even more. 

When you consider the starting lineups for both teams, the 76ers have clearly had the edge, with Embiid and Tyrese Maxey combining to average 65.5 points. 

The 76ers have outscored the Knicks in the first quarter of both games (59-43), as that’s likely when Embiid will be at his freshest. 

When you have a player as efficient as Embiid, coach Nick Nurse can almost script the first quarter to his liking.

It’s tough to see the Knicks’ starters finding their form across enemy lines inside what should be a boisterous Wells Fargo Center. Thus, we should expect another fast start from the 76ers.

Recommendation: 76ers first quarter -1.5 points (-118, BetRivers). 

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