Every game matters in the playoffs, as every win brings teams a step closer to the ultimate goal of winning a championship. On Monday night, it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers were going to get a win on the board and steal homecourt advantage in their first-round tussle against the New York Knicks. However, an apparent missed call doomed the 76ers in the end, leading to two consecutive threes that had the Knicks take the lead from five down in a matter of seconds en route to a 104-101 loss for Philadelphia.

One play, in particular, will forever catch the ire of the 76ers brass. Following a Jalen Brunson three to cut the lead to two, the 76ers inbounded the ball in the backcourt to Tyrese Maxey, who had 35 points on the night. The Knicks immediately sent a double-team towards Maxey, causing him to fall over — but not before it seemed as though Brunson and Josh Hart had fouled him.

Nonetheless, Tyrese Maxey still had control of the ball on the ground for a brief moment. That was when 76ers head coach Nick Nurse motioned to the officials for a timeout. However, the officials, as per Nurse's recollection, ignored his pleas. In fact, Nurse said that he was already calling for timeout before the ball was even inbounded.

“I called timeout. The referee looked right at me, and ignored me. Tyrese Maxey got the ball. I called timeout again, he ignored me again,” Nurse said, via Knicks Videos on SNY. “I guess I got to run out onto the floor and do something to make sure I get his attention.”

Upon closer inspection, it looked like Nick Nurse did not commit to calling the timeout before Kyle Lowry inbounded the ball. The 76ers head coach appeared to motion for a timeout, but he even raised his arms as if to say that he was not calling for anything afterwards. When Nurse was vociferously calling for a stoppage, it was unclear whether or not Tyrese Maxey had possession of the basketball.

It's the best course of action, in these moments, to just call a timeout before the ball is even inbounded. This allows teams to advance the ball, giving them a better angle for an easier inbounds play. Inbounding the ball in the backcourt in these moments is simply tempting fate and the Knicks made the 76ers pay.

Stellar efforts from Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey go to waste

There was a bit of concern surrounding the 76ers' stars prior to Game 2 against the Knicks. Joel Embiid looked as if he was still dealing with a knock to his eye, while Tyrese Maxey was listed as questionable on the injury report due to an illness. But nothing is more important to a team's season than playoff basketball, so the 76ers stars toughed it out and delivered strong performances despite being less than 100 percent.

Maxey, in particular, looked like the best player on the court on the night. Despite dealing with an illness, he was too quick for the Knicks guards to defend, getting to the rim plenty of times while being his usual on-point self from beyond the arc. He finished with a game-high 35 points on a clean 12-22 shooting from the field, and he fell just one rebound shy of a triple-double, adding 10 dimes and nine boards to what was already a stellar night.

Meanwhile, even though Embiid didn't have the most efficient of shooting nights, he put pressure on the Knicks defense all night long. He may have shot 12-29 from the field, but he finished with 34 points, combining for a nice 69 points with Maxey. The 76ers star and reigning MVP settled for too many threes, however (going 2-9 from deep).

These performances from Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid deserved a win. Alas, Maxey's night was spoiled by his late-game turnover that may or may not have involved a foul. Embiid missed the three that would have tied the game in the dying seconds. It was a tragic ending to the 76ers strong road performance, but with the series going back to Philadelphia, their season is far from over.

76ers face a must-win Game 3

It must go without mentioning that the 76ers must win Game 3, lest they stare at the face of another premature end to their season. Not a single team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0, so Joel Embiid and company will have to take care of business against the Knicks when the series shifts on Thursday.

Embiid has played a bit better at home throughout his playoff career, and there is value in having the best player in the series. Thus, the 76ers are very much alive, as long as they shake off their frustrations regarding the manner in which they lost Game 2 and execute their gameplan to perfection.