Jalen Brunson’s first season with the New York Knicks continues to be outstanding, despite being underappreciated by those who give out awards. Maybe not everyone has overlooked NYC’s beloved point guard, however.
Marc Stein reported today: “An Eastern Conference All-Star slot eluded him. An All-NBA berth probably will, too. But I have been assured that Brunson has very much played his way into national-team consideration with USA Basketball.”
The Monday Musings go around the NBA as usual ... with a particular focus on the tough team-building questions that loom for those on the brink of a Round 1 playoff exit: https://t.co/l3Sdq50jb5— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 24, 2023
If selected for Team USA, Brunson would represent both the Knicks and Uncle Sam at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, France. Maybe Evan Fournier will let JB use his apartment.
Based on what we know about Brunson, July 2024 is not even a blip on his mental screen yet. He is focused on closing out the Cleveland Cavaliers in Wednesday’s Game Five of the First Round, Eastern Conference Playoffs.
For Knicks fans, though, it’s hard to resist looking ahead to potential next-round matchups. Our team is up 3-1 against the Cavs and have statistics on their side.
In Miami on Monday night, Jimmy Butler logged the highest-scoring playoff performance in Heat history—and a new career-best of 56 points—to put his squad up 3-1 on the Milwaukee Bucks. We are keenly attuned to the result of this series because its winner will face New York (if our heroes can close out Cleveland, natch).
New York lost all three of their games versus the Bucks this year. Against Miami, however, they went 3-1*. Would the latter be the preferred second-round match-up? You bet. Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein would give New York a sizable advantage down low, and I can’t wait to see Playoff Mitch bounce Bam-Bam Adebayo on his knee.
Playoffs are often decided less by the points on the board and more by who is injured on the bench. The Knicks’ Julius Randle is still recovering from an ankle sprain that occurred toward the end of the regular season. If New York can take care of business in The Land on Wednesday, that might give Julius a few more recovery days before Round Two starts.
On Saturday, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Brooklyn Nets to sweep their series, 4-0. Not all the news was positive for Philly, however—during the game, Joel Embiid sprained the LCL in his right knee. The expected recovery time is one to two weeks. Could that become a lingering issue? If the Boston Celtics finish off the Atlanta Hawks tonight, they will potentially face an Embiid-less Philly team for at least the first game or two. With two evenly-matched clubs, an early win or two could swing the round.
The Knicks won the season series against the Celtics, 3-1, but tied their series with Philly 2-2. Who would you rather face, should New York make an improbable ECF appearance?
If you feel optimistic about New York’s chances this postseason, you’re not alone. The Ringer’s Odds Machine gives New York 84% odds to win round one of the playoffs, 61% odds to take the second, a 25% chance to win the conference, and 15% odds to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Everybody already knew The Ringer was in the tank for the Celtics. What @zachkram's Odds Machine presupposes is ... maybe they're also in the tank for the Knicks? https://t.co/vACizti5QX pic.twitter.com/jPJN4YkZH3— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) April 25, 2023
Only 15%?! I gotta email somebody. . . . God, I can’t wait for Wednesday. Go Knicks!
[* Editor’s Note: Fixed. Thx, Constantly, irrevocably, permanently always wrong forever.]