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The Philadelphia 76ers looked like they had Game 2 of their first-round series against the New York Knicks wrapped up when they led 101-96 with roughly 47 seconds remaining. What followed is one of the most chaotic sequences in recent NBA history: a made 3-pointer by Jalen Brunson, a tipped inbound pass leading to a scramble for the ball, Knicks possession, and then, a Donte DiVincenzo 3-pointer that gave the Knicks a lead they would not surrender the rest of the way.

It was the sort of stretch that was almost too crazy to be possible. Well, according to the NBA's last two minute report, it shouldn't have been. Officials made a few mistakes during the inbound sequence that gave New York the possession it needed to take the lead:

  • With 27.2 seconds remaining, "an attempt to call a timeout by Coach Nurse (PHI) during this play is neither recognized nor granted by the officials." This is something Nurse himself grumbled about after Game 2. "I called timeout," Nurse explained. "The referee looked right at me and ignored me. Tyrese Maxey got the ball. I called timeout again. He ignored me again. Then the melee started."
  • With 27 seconds remaining, "Brunson (NYK) pulls Maxey's (PHI) jersey away from his body, which affects Maxey's ability to secure the pass." This pull was not called, and affects Maxey as he attempts to secure the inbounds pass that is tipped by Josh Hart. It should have been a foul.
  • With 24.9 seconds remaining, "Hart (NYK) steps forward into Maxey's (PHI) space and initiates lower body contact that causes Maxey to lose his balance and fall to the floor." This should have been a foul as well, meaning Maxey was fouled twice by the Knicks on the way to their steal, but neither was called.

Here is the visual of what happened during that play:

While these were the most critical mistakes made in the final two minutes, they weren't the only ones. There were two more misses, one that benefitted each team.

  • With 1:14 remaining, OG Anunoby committed a defensive three-second penalty that the officials missed. This ultimately suited Philadelphia just fine, though, as Maxey made a 3-pointer five seconds later.
  • With 34.7 seconds remaining, Joel Embiid fouls Donte DiVincezo as he begins his dribble, affecting his SQBR (speed, balance, quickness and rhythm). This no-call also worked out for New York, as it led to Brunson's 3-pointer to bring the score down to 101-99.

While the 76ers will not file an official protest of Monday's result, they will file a complaint to the league over the officiating in Games 1 and 2, a team spokesman told John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia. In addition to the missed calls during Game 2, last two minutes report data showed that Philadelphia was the most disadvantaged team in the NBA this season when it came to officiating late in close games. Daryl Morey, the team's president, notably filed a similar complaint during the 2019 postseason when his Houston Rockets were playing the Golden State Warriors.

Perhaps such a complaint will make officials more vigilant in the future. But Game 2 is officially in the past. The 76ers trail the series 2-0 and now must win four out of five to keep their season alive. After two tough losses in New York, their goal will have to be winning their next two home games convincingly enough for officiating to become a non-factor.

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