Josh Hart Claps Back at Sixers’ Backup for Knicks Comments: ‘I Don’t Care’

Josh Hart

Getty Josh Hart celebrates a made three-pointer in a February 26 game against the Detroit Pistons.

With a first-round matchup looming, tempers are flaring between the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers before they’ve even touched the hardwood. Game One is on April 19.

Backup center Paul Reed lit a match between the two teams with his overconfidence on Philadelphia’s chances against New York.

He told the hosts of “Run It Back” on Fanduel TV in an April 18 episode that he and the 76ers wanted the matchup with the Knicks.

“I mean, I feel like we ain’t ducking no smoke,” Reed said. “But yeah, we wanted the Knicks matchup. Of course, that’s the easier team, I guess. But it’s gonna be fun. We match up pretty well with them. They got a great guard, we got a great guard. We also got Joel, you know, MVP.”

This prompted a response from New York starter Josh Hart, who spoke with SNY after a team practice on April 19.

“I don’t give a (expletive) about what he said,” Hart told reporters. “I could really care less. I don’t care.”

If not New York, Philadelphia would be playing the Boston Celtics, assuming they beat the Chicago Bulls in the remaining play-in game.

While it’s not unreasonable to call the Celtics a harder out than the Knicks, the 76ers face an uphill climb in their matchup regardless.

That same disadvantage transcends the hardwood. Starting center Isaiah Hartenstein joined in on the rivalry commentary.

Hartenstein: We’re Focused On Us’

After a team practice on April 18, Hartenstein was asked about Reed’s comments.

He responded similarly to his teammate, keeping the energy Madison Square Garden’s best have been known for throughout history.

“That’s his thoughts at the end of the day,” Hartenstein told SNY. “We’re focused on what we gotta do. I think that’s what podcasts do, they make sure they get you comfortable and then people just say (expletive). At the end of the day, we’re focused on us – whatever comments they have, they have. We’re focused on our team. Getting better every day.”

Fans should be happy to hear Hartenstein’s focus. He’ll play quite possibly the biggest role in their series against Philadelphia.

As the Knicks’ starting center, he’ll be matched up with Joel Embiid more than anyone else.

How he handles the assignment on defense, and how much he can get past Embiid, whether via playmaking or shotmaking, could determine the series. And the numbers back Hartenstein.

In one matchup against Embiid this season, he held the reigning MVP to 9-of-21 shooting from the floor and forced 5 turnovers.

On the flip side, Hartenstein connected on 5 of his 6 field goal attempts, and didn’t turn the ball over once, when defended by the seven-time All-Star. Advantage, Knicks.

Perhaps this isn’t the easier matchup for the 76ers. It’s telling that the rest of Reed’s teammates weren’t so bold in their comments.

76ers Talk Knicks Matchup

After beating the Heat on April 17, several Philadelphia players talked about the looming matchup with New York.

76ers head coach Nick Nurse stressed his respect for the Knicks and what they’ve accomplished this season.

“I think they’ve earned that seed,” Nurse told SNY. They’ve played really well and beaten a lot of good teams, so we’ll have our work to do here in the next couple of days to get ready for them.”

Point guard Tyrese Maxey hasn’t forgotten New York’s regular-season success against Philadelphia this year.

“They’re tough,” Maxey told SNY. “We’ve got people that we can throw at him… they’re physical, they’re tough & that’s their identity… we have to match that, be better than that and be extremely physical as well..we have to match that…They kicked our tails in the regular season.”

Starting power forward Tobias Harris touched on the difficulties of guarding Brunson.

“His ability to create and score,” Harris said. “His ability to make big shots. We obviously have gone up against him, but our hands are full. We’ll be able to figure it out.”

Veteran wing Nicolas Batum shared his thoughts.

“They got our number this year,” Batum admitted. “They came in twice in this place and pretty much kicked our butt twice… It’s gonna be interesting. Brunson is having an MVP season right now. All those guys are all playing great. Aggressive. It’s the Garden too. Playoff Garden, it’s a different atmosphere. So, it’s gonna be a great series.”

Jalen Brunson averaged just 22.2 points in four games against the Philadelphia 76ers this season. New York went 3-1.

But that’s a drop from his regular-season average of 28.7.

So, perhaps Tyrese Maxey is right, and they do have the guys to “throw at him.”

Whether or not they can continue to stop him across a potential seven-game series will determine how far the Knicks’ playoff run goes.

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