Led by Jalen Brunson’s 41 points, Knicks defeat 76ers in Game 6 to advance to second round of East playoffs

PHILADELPHIA — What a way to end a series.

With less than five seconds left on the game clock and the 76ers down three, Sixers sixth man Buddy Hield caught an inbound pass and immediately vaulted the ball in the direction of the rim, completely unaware of the number of seconds left not just on the game clock, but on Philadelphia’s season.

Game, Knicks.

The shot never touched rim, let alone the net, and careened off the backboard, into Knicks control.

Cue the applause.

The Knicks just handled business.

The Knicks walked onto the Wells Fargo Center floors underdogs, leading the Sixers in their first-round playoff matchup, 3-2, before tipoff on Thursday night.

They emerge victors, headed for a second-round date with the Indiana Pacers after a 118-115 series-clinching victory over the 76ers on Thursday night.

Jalen Brunson scored a game-high 41 points on 13-of-27 shooting from the field, and Donte DiVincenzo added 23 points on five-of-nine shooting from three-point range.

The Knicks entered Thursday’s matchup with a disappointing Game 5 loss at Madison Square Garden hanging over their shoulders, however, they bounced back to hand the Sixers their final loss of the season.

Starting Knicks forward Josh Hart hit the game’s biggest shot on Thursday, spotting-up wide-open from the top of the key for a game-winning three to put his team up late in the fourth quarter.

Hart finished with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, while Knicks fans in attendance serenaded Brunson with M-V-P chants well after the final buzzer on the first-time All-Star’s trek off the court.

All five Knicks starters scored in double figures on a night they only got five points from the bench.

OG Anunoby scored 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field, and Isaiah HArtenstien added 14 points and nine rebounds.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibdoeau limited his rotation to just seven players with Mitchell Robinson and Miles McBride as the only reserves playing minutes off the bench.

The Knicks have now eliminated the 76ers with a 4-2 close of their first-round playoff series.

Next up is a fast-paced Pacers team that laid waste to a shorthanded Milwaukee Bucks team in the first round.

Joel Embiid scored a team-high 39 points to go with 13 rebounds but fouled out in the final moments of regulation.

Sixers star Tyrese Maxey scored 46 points at Madison Square Garden in Game 5 but only mustered 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting in the close-out Game 6.

Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 17, and Buddy Hield added 20 off the bench, but it wasn’t enough — and now the Sixers are headed home, or to Cancun, as the Knicks truck on to the next round of the playoffs.

The Knicks jumped out to an early 28-9 lead before the 76ers came roaring back in the second quarter, outscoring the Knicks, 32-15, in the period alone.

The 76ers got zero points out of starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who shot 0-of-2 from the field and was a minus-nine on the night.

Sixers forward and New York native Tobias Harris also shot 0-of-2 from the field and did not score in the final game of the series.

76ers forward Nic Batum scored 16 points off the bench, but it wasn’t enough to sustain a 14-of-31 shooting night from downtown from the Knicks.

The Knicks won their first-round series without Julius Randle, the three-time All-Star whose season ended with a dislocated right shoulder on Jan. 27.

They also played without Bojan Bogdanovic, who suffered an ankle injury in Game 4 and underwent season-ending ankle surgery.

The Knicks don’t care who’s in or out of the rotation, only if they can secure a victory while shorthanded.

They did on Thursday. Now, they’re on to the second round, where they’ll host Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers with a chance to head to the Eastern Conference Finals hanging in the balance.