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Knicks vs. 76ers: Tom Thibodeau discusses Game 2 controversy, says he ‘knew they couldn’t call a foul there’

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With their manic flurry to cap off Monday’s 104-101 Game 2 win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks presented fans with the defining early moment of the 2024 postseason. Of course this is the NBA, so we can’t escape any fun times without a massive controversy. Sure enough, the league’s Last Two Minute Report from the game provided all the fodder we could ask for.

The report showed that 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey was fouled — not once, but twice — during the inbound sequence in which he turned the ball over, eventually leading to Donte DiVincenzo’s game-winning 3-pointer. In addition, the league said that a timeout could have been granted to Philadelphia coach Nick Nurse prior to the inbounds pass.

After the game, a 76ers spokesperson said they would file a complaint with the NBA over the officiating in both games of the series, which the Knicks now lead 2-0. The Last Two Minute report from Game 1 showed that the 76ers were disadvantaged in two situations: a non-call on a Maxey drive with just under a minute left, and a missed traveling call against Knicks guard Jalen Brunson with 17 seconds remaining. Those were the only calls deemed incorrect for either team in the final two minutes of Game 1.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t buying into the 76ers’ argument, however, and he addressed the issue during Wednesday’s media session while his team prepares for Game 3 on Thursday. Like the veteran coach he is, Thibodeau attempted to flip the narrative by pointing out the calls he feels Brunson has not gotten throughout the series. He also said the team is not concerned with Philadelphia’s grievance.

“I’m more concerned with the 46-minute report. And I mean that,” Thibodeau said on Wednesday. “I knew they couldn’t call a foul there. I’m watching the way Jalen’s being guarded. … I’m locked into Game 3. That’s where we are. We don’t get sidetracked with that stuff. I watch the whole game, not two minutes worth.”

In the series so far, Brunson is averaging 7.5 free throw attempts per game compared to 6.5 during the regular season. This isn’t the first time Thibodeau has lobbied on his All-Star point guard’s behalf, as he infamously repeated “he’s getting fouled” six consecutive times during a postgame press conference at the beginning of April.

This first-round series has been extremely physical thus far, and there’s no reason to expect any different as things shift to Philadelphia for Thursday’s Game 3. 

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