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Sixers notes: Nick Nurse admires Knicks ‘Nova trio but he’s frustrated by them

NEW YORK — The ‘Nova Knicks, as Wildcats alums Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo are known around the Philly area, have made a believer out of Sixers coach Nick Nurse.

A basketball purist, Nurse has gotten a rush watching replays of the Villanova trio and the chemistry they have. At the end of the day Nurse is frustrated because the Knicks entered Game 5 Tuesday night with a 3-1 lead in the first-round best-of-7 series.

At the same time, he will not dismiss the way they’re getting it done. The ‘Nova trio scored 59 points in the Knicks’ 97-92 win over the Sixers in Game 4, Brunson dropping in 47 points.

“They play great, man,” Nurse said. “If you don’t like the way those three guys play then you don’t like basketball. They play great, they play hard, and they’re smart. And they do look like they’ve played together a little bit.”

Brunson sparked Villanova to a couple of NCAA Tournament championships, one with Hart and one with Brunson. The group took over the last 28 seconds of Game 2 outhustling the Sixers as the Knicks scored eight points to beat the Sixers, 104-101.

Knicks coach Tim Thibodeau for whatever reason tried to wreck the theme, but to no avail. Thibodeau couldn’t speak about Brunson’s leadership without mentioning Hart and DiVincenzo.

“He’s been a tremendous leader,” Thibodeau said of Brunson. “I always say his best characteristic is probably the person that he is. He not only has the ability to bring the best out of himself, but he also has the ability to bring the best out of everyone around him. And that’s what makes him special. It’s not the best individual players that win always, it’s the best team that wins. And that’s what we have to be. When we lost guys along the way we knew we had to be a great team to be able to overcome that. And we have a team of leaders. Josh Hart is a great leader. Donte is a great leader. We have a bunch of guys that have filled in in that way, and we need everyone.”

• • •

Kelly Oubre did not participate in the morning shootaround because he felt ill.

But Oubre started in the elimination game, the Sixers down 3-1 in the best-of-7 series along with Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Kyle Lowry.

“It’s a matter of what he can do,” Nurse said,

That’s the same starting lineup Nurse has used throughout the series.

• • •

The Sixers have some interesting decisions ahead no matter the outcome of the playoffs.

Barring a run to the finals, unlikely as that appears, they’re going to have a lot of new faces in 2024-25.

Embiid ($47.6 million salary) and “BBall Paul” Reed ($7.7 million) are the only Sixers under contract next season. The contract of Ricky Council isn’t guaranteed.

The expiring contracts belong to Harris ($39.2 million), Buddy Hield ($19.3 million), Nic Batum ($11.7 million), Robert Covington ($11.7 million), De’Anthony Melton ($8 million), Oubre ($2 million), Cameron Payne ($2 million), Mo Bamba ($2 million) and K.J. Martin ($1.9 million).

Maxey is a restricted free agent.

Lowry is completing a $2.8 million contract with the Sixers after taking a buyout from the Charlotte Hornets.

Unless the Sixers trade up, they’re drafting around 16. Much too late for the consensus top picks, Alexandre Sarr (7-0, 217) and Zaccharie Risacher (6-9, 204), both from France.

• • •

The Knicks will be without guard Bojan Bogdanovic, who hit some huge triples in the first two games for the rest of the playoffs.

Bogey, as he’s called, broke his foot, per reports, and the Knicks say his season is over.

“It’s unfortunate,” Thibodeau said. “I thought he was really playing well for us. Injuries are part of the game. Great guy, great worker, just unfortunate. You hate to see it, but it’s been our reality all season.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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