NBA Playoffs

‘F–ing unacceptable' — Sixers irate, set to file grievance over officiating in Knicks series  

The Sixers are set to file a grievance with the NBA following their controversial Game 2 loss.

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NEW YORK — The late-game officiating Monday night at Madison Square Garden sure did not sit well with the Sixers. 

On the verge of a resilient Game 2 victory against the Knicks, the Sixers experienced a catastrophic, controversial finish out of a nightmare.

Now down 2-0 in their first-round playoff series, the Sixers are set to file a grievance with the NBA over the officiating, a team spokesperson told reporters.

Joel Embiid shared a straightforward opinion of the night. 

“That’s just unacceptable, to put us in that situation,” he said. “That’s f---ing unacceptable to lose a game like this, especially in the playoffs.”

His comments came after a game the Sixers led by five points with under 30 seconds remaining. The first domino to drop was a Jalen Brunson three-pointer that bounced in off the front rim. The Sixers then tried to inbound the ball, Tyrese Maxey couldn’t secure it during a frantic sequence, and New York eventually went ahead on Donte DiVincenzo’s second crack at a long-range jumper. 

Brunson appeared to hold Maxey’s jersey as Kyle Lowry threw the ball in. Sixers head coach Nick Nurse’s requests for a timeout were futile.  

“The first thing is they score,” Nurse said. “We take a look at getting it in quick. We don’t get it in quick. I call timeout. The referee looked right at me, ignored me. (The ball) went into Tyrese. I called timeout again. Then the melee started.

“I guess I’ve got to run out onto the floor or do something to make sure I get his attention. I needed a timeout there to advance it. Would’ve been good, but I didn’t get it.”

Nurse said he received no explanation or clarity on why he wasn't granted a timeout. 

“There was no time to talk about it. … I just watched the film, just to make sure, and I’m clearly calling timeout,” he said. “I didn’t see if he looked at me in the film, but I could see me clearly calling timeout twice.” 

Once Nurse did get a timeout, the Sixers put the ball in Maxey’s hands.

The All-Star guard was sensational for much of the fourth quarter Monday and posted a 35-point, 10-assist, nine-rebound stat line despite playing with an illness. However, Isaiah Hartenstein blocked Maxey's lefty layup attempt with approximately eight seconds left.

Two OG Anunoby free throws and a missed three at the final buzzer from Embiid (34 points, 10 rebounds) polished off the Knicks’ stunning victory.

“It sucks,” Maxey said. “We’ve got to put it behind us now. We’ve got 48 hours to think about it and come up with a plan to get two at home.”

Embiid expects the Sixers to handle business at Wells Fargo Center. 

“We should be (up) 2-0, so we’re good,” he said. “We should be winning this series. We’re going to win this. We know what we’ve got to fix. We did a better job today, so we’re going to fix it. But we’re the better team and we’re going to keep fighting.”

The officiating will be in a glaring spotlight going into Game 3 on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center. 

Embiid’s perspective is exceptionally clear.  

“That’s on the league, that’s on the NBA, that’s on the freaking referees,” he said. “I hate to put the game on them, but I’m sure the (last) two-minute report is going to come out and we’re going to see what happened. Like I said, that’s unacceptable. … We fought for 47 minutes and 20 seconds. For that to happen … that’s not OK.”

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