Knicks Have Major Flaw To Fix Before NBA Playoffs

Tom Thibodeau, Jalen Brunson, Knicks, NBA

The New York Knicks are a team that no one wants to face off against in the postseason. You know what you are signing up for going against them in a series as they are going to play a physical brand of basketball on both ends of the court.

New York wears down their opponents, as they get up into them defensively for 48 minutes a game. Just when you think they are going to slow down, they then bludgeon you with aggressiveness and physicality on the boards.

It isn’t always the most aesthetically pleasing brand of basketball, but it has worked for Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks. Despite all of the injuries they have had to deal with, the team still has a shot at landing a seed high enough to give them homecourt advantage in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

A big reason for that has been the performance of point guard Jalen Brunson. He has been playing at an MVP level, carrying the offensive load by himself with Julius Randle and OG Anunoby sidelined because of injuries.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jalen Brunson, Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks Updates

Some magnificent performances have been put together as opponents have no answers for Brunson when he gets going offensively. He has immaculate footwork, helping him overcome his lack of athleticism and explosiveness and has turned into a very good 3-point shooter.

For weeks, Brunson has faced off against defenses usually reserved for NBA Playoff series. Teams are blitzing him and sending double teams to get the ball out of his hands. New York has done a good job of countering that recently, as Isaiah Hartenstein has gotten more aggressive looking for his shot when receiving passes at the top of the key.

With Brunson on the court in 2024, a majority of which has been spent without Anunboy and Randle, the Knicks have been elite offensively. They are No. 2 in the NBA with an offensive rating of 123.1 with their star leading the way. Unfortunately, when he is off the court, opponents thrive.

With Brunson off the court, the Knicks are last in the NBA with an offensive rating of 103.4. The disparity in the team’s offensive performance with and without Brunson has been on full display in the Knicks’ last two games played.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jalen Brunson, Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks Updates

New York has suffered two heartbreaking losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder in their last two. Brunson has been heroic in those games, scoring a career-high 61 against the Spurs before pouring in 30 against the Thunder.

Despite losing both games, New York was +37 in the 78 minutes that Brunson was on the court. It is unfathomable to believe that when he was sitting, for all of 23 minutes, the Knicks were outscored by 42.

With him on the court, the Knicks can hang with any team in the NBA. But, when he heads to the bench, they are the worst team in the league and susceptible to being blown out of the gym. Heading into the NBA Playoffs, that is a recipe for disaster.

In the postseason, Brunson’s minutes will likely tick up a little bit. He could be playing closer to 40 minutes per night, which will mitigate some of the issues the team has been having in minutes he isn’t on the floor.

NBA NEWS & SCORES: Jalen Brunson, Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks Updates

However, finding some offense when Brunson rests is imperative for New York if they want to make any noise in the playoffs. The acquisitions of Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks have not provided the kind of relief the team was hoping for, as both have been inefficient and net negatives since being acquired ahead of the NBA Trade Deadline from the Detroit Pistons.

The easiest solution would be getting Randle and Anunoby back in the mix, but the Knicks need to make the most of what is available to them currently. Giving another player a chance, such as Shake Milton, over Burks could be something Thibodeau considers down the stretch of the regular season.

Thibodeau has to try something because he cannot rely on Brunson playing all 48 minutes for as long as the 2023-24 season runs for the Knicks. Someone else needs to step up when he is resting, but to this point, New York hasn’t been able to find someone who can.

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