It was a disappointing way to end the season considering the fifth-seeded Knicks were favored to beat the eighth-seeded Heat entering the series. The Knicks should still hold their heads high to a rejuvenated season in a New York-starved basketball city.
There will be plenty of months to discuss different storylines from the season but I wanted to focus on Jalen Brunson in the playoffs here.
I don't have many more words I can add to what’s already been said about Brunson. The dude is phenomenal, a great leader, and left it all out on the court for the Knicks in the playoffs. At only 26 years old, it’s incredibly exciting that he will be in a Knicks uniform for the foreseeable future.
Game Six of the second round is the furthest the Knicks have gone since the 2012-13 season. That team was led by Carmelo Anthony and New York ironically lost on the road in Indiana in Game Six to lose the series. Both Knicks teams were favored to win their series and came up short.
Comparing playoff stats:
Jalen Brunson like Carmelo Anthony carried a big burden in the playoffs. Melo was playing with a worse supporting cast as Amar’e Stoudemire only played 30 games during the regular season and 33 minutes total during the Indiana series. Despite likely having a better team, what Brunson did was remarkable considering the struggles of his teammates around him.
Scoring, helping stats, and shooting percentages:
In 11 playoff games in the 2023 playoffs, Brunson averaged 27.8 points, 5.6 assists, and 4.9 rebounds in 40.3 minutes per game. His shooting splits were 47.4/32.5/91.2. He also had a 53 percent effective field goal percentage and took 20.9 field goal attempts per game.
Carmelo played in 12 playoff games that postseason and averaged 28.8 points, 1.6 assists, and 6.6 rebounds in 40.1 minutes per game. He saw his shooting splits at 40.6/29.8/88.5. Melos effective field goal percentage was 43.4 percent and he took 25.8 field goal attempts per game. The amount of field goal attempts makes sense considering J.R. Smith (14.3 ppg) and Raymond Felton (14.1 ppg) were the two other leading scorers that postseason.
When it came to player efficiency rating (PER), Brunson’s 23.1 PER edged out Carmelo’s 20.4. Melo's 38.0 usage percentage beat JB’s 28.4 but Melos' usage percentage in the 2013 playoffs was the highest in the NBA. Brunson overall was the more efficient player of the two and a better floor general as seen with the passing numbers.
The Knicks point guard was able to generate 1.5 offensive win shares and 0.6 defensive win shares, finishing with 2.1 win shares total. Carmelo had 0.4 offensive win shares and 0.8 defensive win shares, 1.1 win shares total.
Something I found interesting was the box plus-minus stats. Brunson had a 6.1 offensive box plus-minus in the 2023 playoffs and 1.6 DBPM, coming out to 7.7 total. His offensive box plus-minus wasn’t the same as players like Nikola Jokic (10.7) and Devin Booker (8.7) but those guys respectively had or are in the middle of incredible playoff performances. Jalen Brunson did finish with the same OBPM as Stephen Curry which was neat to see.
In terms of how it compared to Carmelo Anthony, the numbers would suggest Brunson was more impactful on both ends. The Knicks forward finished the 2013 playoffs with a positive 4.1 OPBM but a negative -1.2 DBPM. This came out to a 2.9 BPM. The Knicks were still able to finish the 2013 playoffs with the best defensive rating despite Melos’ shortcomings defensively. When it came to offensive rating, they were. last among playoff teams to play double-digit games.
Ironically enough, ten years later, the Knicks had the worst offensive rating of teams to play double-digit playoff games but were second in defensive rating at their time of exit.
If you came here to watch some highlights and re-live fun recent and past playoff performances then you're in the right place.
First round vs. Boston Celtics:
We’ll turn back the clock and look at Carmelo Anthony’s 36-point afternoon in the Knicks’ exhilarating 85-78 Game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2013 playoffs:
Melo scored 17 of his 36 in the second half and eight in the fourth quarter. His key steal and layup with 2:31 put the Knicks up 81-76 and a tough contested jumper over Jeff Green with 1:21 left put New York up 83-76, all but ending the game.
After scoring 34 points on an efficient 11-24 shooting in the 87-71 Game Two victory, Melo took his show on the road to Boston. He was able to pour in 26 points on 12-25 shooting in front of the TD Garden crowd and take a commanding 3-0 series lead:
The Knicks would lose the next two but win 88-80 in Game Six in Boston to clinch the series.
Second round vs. Indiana Pacers:
A 27-point, 11-rebound effort wasn’t enough to keep the Knicks from losing Game One to the Indiana Pacers in the second round. Down 1-0 in the series, Melo put the team on his back en route to a 32-point night, leading New York to a convincing 105-79 win and a 1-1 series tie:
They would drop the next two games and find themselves down 3-1 going into Game Five at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo extended the Knick's season when he scored 28 points in New York's 85-75 win.
The road would, unfortunately, end in Game Six in Indiana. Carmelo put up 39 points on 15-29 shooting but a 25-point, ten-rebound game from Lance Stephenson sent the Knicks packing:
Apologies for the poor quality, it was the best highlight video I could find from this game
First round vs. Cleveland Cavaliers:
Brunson started out the 2023 playoffs with a strong 27-point performance on 11-24 shooting. He scored 19 of his 27 in the second half and helped the Knicks to a 101-97 victory on the road and a 1-0 series lead:
After 20 points in Game Two and a very efficient 21 in Game Three, Brunson put forth a 29-point effort in Game Four. He played 43 minutes, hitting 11-22 field goals and 5-9 three-pointers. The Knicks point guard also contributed with six assists and six rebounds. This put the Knicks up 3-1 and left them one win away from advancing to the second round for the first time since 2013:
Another 20+ point game in Game Five defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-95. The Knicks would then go on to face the eighth-seeded Miami Heat.
Second round vs. Miami Heat:
The Knicks would lose Game One at home to the Heat. Brunson had 25 points, seven assists, and five rebounds but it wasn’t enough. Now, down 1-0 at home like Carmelo Anthony in 2013, Brunson scored 30 points on 10-19 shooting with six three-pointers. New York would win 111-105 and fittingly, Carmelo was in attendance:
Eerily similar to 2013, the Knicks would go on to lose Games Three and Four. The Villanova product scored 32 points and dished 11 assists in Game Four but his team would fall down 3-1 in the series.
Down 3-1 in the series, Jalen Brunson had a game that will stick with Knicks fans for a long time. Playing all 48 minutes, he scored 38 points on 12-22 shooting and also had nine rebounds and seven assists. It was the type of performance that showed heart, pride, and why the Knicks fanbase has fallen in love with Brunson:
With his third 30+ point game in the second round against the Miami Heat, he joined Bernard King, Patrick Ewing, and Carmelo Anthony as the only players in Knicks history to score 30 or more three times in a playoff series.
Again, very similar to Carmelo Anthony in 2013, Jalen Brunson put up a massive effort in Game Six trying to force a Game Seven. Unfortunately, just like Melo, the Knicks would come up short on the road in Game Six to lose the series.
Brunson’s 41-point performance was the closing statement from what really was a brilliant first year in New York:
Jalen Brunson like Carmelo Anthony was able to get the New York Knicks to Game Six of the second round of the playoffs. Knicks fans have now had a little taste of successful playoff basketball in New York but they are hungry for more.
If there is a silver lining to take from the Knicks’ 2022-23 NBA season, it would be this:
A star in New York was born and his name is Jalen Brunson.
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