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Knicks Fans Are Worrying About Piling Injuries

Injuries to key players continues to be a plague for the New York Knicks. While every team encounters injuries at some point, the Knicks seem to be in a never ending cycle of having to pick up the pieces after a player goes down.

Fans saw firsthand how fragile this run is when Jalen Brunson went to the locker room for the second quarter of Game 2 with a foot injury. Despite the setbacks, the Knicks are still find themselves up 2-0 in a series against the Pacers. Without the Nova Boys Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart, this team would have no chance closing out games like they have been.

The Walking Wounded

The list of injured Knicks reads like a roll call of the team’s most valuable assets: Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanović, and now OG Anunoby, have all been sidelined within the past two weeks. Adding to the list of players on the bench in street clothes. Isaiah Hartenstein has been in and out of the lineup this season due to an Achilles injury, but has delivered big minutes this playoff run.

Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has prioritized winning games and that will not change. Trust from Thibs earns minutes, simple. However, it’s clear that the players are starting to wear down, and some Knicks fans are about ready to suit up to take some fouls in Indiana if called upon. 

Jalen Brunson: More Than Anyone Could Have Ever Asked For

This guy continues to blow every one away with what he is capable of. He has emerged as an indomitable force and fearless leader of the Knicks. Reggie Miller kept saying Josh Hart was the “heart and soul” of the Knicks. Although, that could be true, Brunson is the engine. This playoff run is historic, and the effort he left out on the court is unbelievable.

Teams have resorted to trapping, doubling, and throwing various defensive looks at Brunson, severely limiting the quality of his three-point attempts. Before Julius Randle’s injury, Brunson often benefited from open looks created by Randle’s drives and post touches. Now, without Randle’s presence, Brunson has been forced to have historic usage rates. He is a no excuses type of player and has risen to every single challenge thus far.

A Gritty Performance for the Ages

By an act of God, Brunson returned from a right foot injury in Game 2 against the Pacers to score 24 of his 29 points in the second half. Without him there was nobody who was able to lead the Knicks to a crucial 130-121 victory and a 2-0 series lead. On the anniversary of Willis Reed’s legendary Finals return in 1970, Brunson sent the MSG crowd into a frenzy when he emerged to warm up after halftime. He fell short of scoring 40 or more points in five straight playoff games, but nobody cares because they won. Now the Knicks are halfway to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2000.

OG Anunoby: Will Miss Game 3

OG is out for game 3. Another huge blow for New York. He was really showing his offensive game early and often in Game 2, and was the primary reason the Knicks were competitive during Brunson’s absence.

While Brunson’s heroics have been well-documented, the loss of OG Anunoby will be a significant blow. He saw Ice Spice sitting court side and then turned into Kawhi Leonard. He had 28 points and made four three-pointers, before limping to the locker room with a sore left hamstring in the third quarter that he suffered during a fast break layup attempt.

Anunoby’s absence was keenly felt as the Knicks attempted to hold off the Pacers in the fourth quarter. The Knicks counted on their All-Defensive wing to guard Pascal Siakam.  Siakam showed some signs of comfort right when OG went down. Something to keep an eye out on in Game 3. Of course, his defensive presence will be missed. He tallied nine blocks and eight steals this postseason.

Precious Achiuwa: The Next Man Up

With Mitchell Robinson out for the season and Anunoby unable to play in the fourth quarter of Game 2, you got to tip your cap to Precious Achiuwa. After barely any playing time this playoff run, he stepped up to contribute eight points in 28 minutes off the bench, including a key dunk with under four minutes remaining. Achiuwa’s emergence as a reliable contributor exemplifies the Knicks’ “next-man up” mentality, a mindset that has been crucial in navigating this season in its entirety.

The Resilient Rotation

Despite the mounting injuries, the Knicks have managed to maintain a resilient rotation, thanks in large part to the exceptional performances of their remaining starters and the contributions of players like Achiuwa and Deuce McBride. Tom Thibodeau has faced a challenging balancing act throughout the team’s injury-riddled season. His decision to prioritize winning games in the present over preserving players for the long haul has been a subject of debate.

If Thibodeau decides to tighten his rotation even further, the most likely candidate to see increased playing time would be Alec Burks. The 32-year-old veteran has been out of the Knicks’ rotation for quite some time due to his struggles with his shot. Thibodeau has been forced to make tough decisions regarding his rotation. In Game 1 against the Pacers, he opted to play only three players off the bench, with Precious Achiuwa receiving just four minutes of playing time.

Pacers Retaliation

While acknowledging the Knicks’ strengths, the Pacers players know they missed their chance to steal a game in New York. Now with the advantage of more available players, they will definitely feed off their home crowd. With Pacers Coach Rick Carlisle’s dissatisfaction with the officials in Games 1 and 2, fans will feed into that hostility. This renewed rivalry is starting to show its competitive nature and now the Pacers’ determination will be put to the test. 

Cautious Optimism

As the series shifts to Indiana, Knicks fans find themselves in a state of cautious optimism, tempered by concerns over the fragility of the team’s rotation and the potential impact of the mounting injuries. 

Without knowing Brunson’s status for Game 3 and knowing OG will be out, anxiety grows. We see the heart and grit this team plays with and don’t want it to end. These eight playoff games alone have provided Knicks fans lifelong memories. With all that has happened we can only hope these Knicks can continue to blow us away with their effort and stay the course in these next two games in Indiana. 


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