The last seven days of New York basketball have been far from the lofty expectations the team faced coming into the season.
A home and home on back-to-back nights with our familiar foes from Cleveland started the week’s slate. Against a banged-up Cavalier squad, a balanced effort led the Knicks to an easy win to get back to the .500 mark.
But the good vibes stopped there. The following night, back at the Garden, New York shot 5-of-30 from long distance and failed to break the 90-point mark. Julius Randle shot 3-for-15 from the field in what is quickly becoming a trend this season. The game was close down the stretch, but the Knicks lost a winnable game.
The recipe was the same against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night, the first in-season tournament game for the Knicks. New York shot poorly all night, ending the game below 40% from the field and 26% from three-point range. Julius Randle shot 5-for-20. Yikes. You won’t win many games doing that.
If you look at the final score of both losses, though, you’ll notice something: both games were close. A loss is a loss, but the Knicks were in both games until the final stretch. The only reason this happened wears number 11 and is this week’s Player of the Week: Jalen Brunson.
The human lifeboat kept the Knicks afloat this entire week, and after some rough shooting to start the season, had a nice week. The Knicks’ offense is reminiscent of last year’s playoffs: give JB the ball. This was highlighted by his dominant 45-point performance against the Bucks. Possession after possession, the ball was in Brunson’s hands, and he made the right play.
This big shot down the stretch nearly let the Knicks escape with a win.
On a personal level, Brunson also hit the 5,000 points career mark.
Hopefully, the Knicks can right the ship ASAP. Brunson’s looking like his old self, already proving that last year was no fluke. But the game is a team sport, and until his teammates start making some plays, Knicks wins may not come as easily as the fanbase hopes.
This week, the Knicks will have three chances to pick up their first home win; the Clippers come to town tonight, followed by Wemby and the Spurs on Wednesday, then Charlotte on Sunday. We’ll learn a lot about the team through this stretch. Take it easy!