The Sixers (1-3) visited the New York Knicks (3-1) in Game 5 of their first round series on Tuesday. Philadelphia wanted to stave off elimination. New York wanted to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Tyrese Maxey's heroics, Joel Embiid's gutsy effort, and Tobias Harris' bursts of scoring powered the Sixers to an overtime win, 112-106, forcing the series to a sixth game.

Before we get to what I saw, some notes.

Contextual Notes

The Sixers were without the services of Robert Covington, who has a bone bruise in his left knee.

Nick Nurse started Kyle Lowry, Maxey, Kelly Oubre Jr., Harris, and Embiid.

The Knicks were without the services of Julius Randle, who is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder.

In the hours leading up to the game, it was revealed that Bojan Bogdanovic will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgeries to repair foot and wrist injuries.

Tom Thibodeau started Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, OG Anunoby, Josh Hart, and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Inside The Game

- It flew under the radar at first because he made all the right passing reads against double-teams, but Embiid did not take the floor with remotely enough force or the conviction necessary to set the tone for his team early in this game.

He was incredibly passive from the get-go, squaring to the basket only to pivot into the next action so that he could get the ball to a teammate. Every drive was weak; one of the only concerted efforts to attack the rim ended with a finger roll, which was blocked with more force than practically anything Embiid attempted in the first half.

Knee, Bell's palsy symptoms, whatever; Embiid either was checked out or let the ailments from which he's suffering get the better of him, and any attempt to sugar-coat what we all saw would be insulting.

- You could see as clear as day that Embiid had no lift in his legs in the first half. Remaining fatigue from Game 4 after playing 44 minutes total and 24 straight in the second half, lugging around a knee brace, discomfort in the knee, or suboptimal conditioning after a two-month layoff; whatever it was, there is an adjacent point to the one above. Because Embiid's game is so based in perimeter play, there is extremely high volatility in his offensive effectiveness once the regular season transitions to the playoffs. Not only because of injuries, but because of the way defenses key in on him, too.

So, when the lift from the lower body isn't there, Embiid is limited to ball security and passing as best he can. That's when it sure would be nice to have an inside game, just like the star big men who came before him. You could see Embiid toying with some moves inside, the lack of polish showing through on a couple of misses at the cup in the first half.

The bottom line is every Embiid catch comes some 15 feet from the basket. That's by design. He's a big who plays the game like a wing. If he had an inside game - and the requisite strength to establish and maintain his positioning down low - it would do wonders for his playoff volatility. Instead, he spent virtually the entire game operating from 15 feet and higher. When you have no lift and your inside game is under-developed, that leaves you on the perimeter without a paddle.

- Ah, the minutes in which Embiid sat. Play the hits, I suppose. Here's the thing - it used to be that the man tasked with replacing Embiid was simply a revolving door on defense. I don't think the non-Embiid minutes in this series have been as simple as that.

Make no mistake, Paul Reed has not played well. Tuesday provided more footage of Reed trying to attack bigger defenders like Mitchell Robinson off the dribble without much strength or plan. When that went as poorly as expected, the Knicks got out in transition. Having said that, he wasn't the only Sixer in those lineups missing shots. And with Reed losing the size battle with Robinson, many of Philadelphia's efforts to wrestle offensive rebounds away from the Knicks resulted in the Sixers losing control on the way down and going out of bounds, giving the ball back to New York anyway.

- The Sixers would've been preparing for exit interviews had it not been for Maxey and Harris. When the Sixers needed a jolt of offense, Harris answered the call. First was a corner three and a foul-line jumper to defrost the opening minutes of the game while the other nine players between both sides were ice-cold. Second was a quick flurry right after halftime to cut the Sixers' deficit to two points. Finally, he drilled a desperate, heavily-contested jumper around the foul line to save a possession with Philadelphia reeling in the fourth quarter.

The hero of the night, though, was none other than Maxey. He had a brutal fourth quarter in Game 4, missing open threes and difficult shots at the rim with the game hanging in the balance for all 12 minutes. Maxey refused to let that be his lasting memory of the series.

He started with a handful of finishes at the rim, blasting by his assigned defender and lowering his dribble to avoid reaching helpers along the drives. He never strayed too far when the ball was in Embiid's hands, canning open threes all over the floor when the Knicks double-teamed the big man with no. 0 one pass away.

Maxey zoomed in and out of actions all night long, punishing the Knicks for fighting over screens or dropping below the level by raining pull-up triples and attacking the rim with his best downhill pressure.

And when the season came down to one final shot, Maxey was game. He laced a pull-up three from just inside the center-court logo to ultimately send the game to overtime.

46 points, nine assists, and five rebounds from the star guard to force a Game 6 in Philadelphia.

- I can't criticize Embiid without also giving him credit for battling in this game. He shot the ball horribly, he committed nine turnovers. If the Sixers had lost, the story would've largely been about how he melted down with some of his decisions in the fourth quarter. Having said that, he played almost 48 minutes in the game. He pulled down 16 rebounds and dished 10 assists. Embiid blocked four shots, and made possession-altering defensive plays down the stretch of the fourth quarter and overtime. And sensing a win close by, he got on the floor to secure loose balls.

He certainly did not play his best; frankly, nowhere close to it. But, you can either run away with your tail between your legs when adversity strikes, or you can find other ways to impact the game and fight to the very end. Embiid did that, and they wouldn't have won without him.

Spare Thoughts

- Nurse was hired to be a masterful tactician, infusing unpredictability into this team's offense. The offense could not be more predictable right now, and that's part of why Embiid had so many turnovers in this game.

- I don't know how Nurse saw the way the fourth quarter of Game 4 played out and thought that stretching Embiid's minutes again was the right idea.

The Sixers (2-3) will host the New York Knicks (3-2) in Game 6 of this first round series on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m., Eastern time. You can catch the action on TNT.

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