Knicks’ Isaiah Hartenstein getting healthy at the right time

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein (55) dunks in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein is turning the corner after an Achilles injury interrupted his emergent play last winter. In the last four games, Hartenstein is fourth on the Knicks in scoring with 14.0 points per game on a blistering 75.8 percent shooting from the field. The Knicks have won three of those four contests in large part due to the 25-year-old’s work in the interior.

Knicks: Isaiah Hartenstein’s play suggests his Achilles woes may be over

Hartenstein reached the apex of his 2023-24 season from Dec. 16 until Feb. 2. The German-American center rose to the occasion in Mitchell Robinson’s stead with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double against the Clippers on Dec. 16 and went on to have eight games with 15 or more rebounds, 12 games with multiple steals and four games with five or more assists. His impactful +/- numbers helped the Knicks go 17-8 in that stretch.

From Feb. 2 until his most recent string of noteworthy play, he hasn’t had one game where he accomplished any of those three markers. Now, the Knicks big man is looking more like himself again at an opportune time.

Hartenstein’s consistent play will be huge for the Knicks’ playoff chances

There are only 11 games remaining before the 2024 NBA playoffs start. Hartenstein will be crucial in thwarting opposing interior attacks on defense and creating second-chance opportunities for his teammates.

The Knicks are up against formidable offenses in the Eastern Conference that have size and athleticism. The Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, and Cleveland Cavaliers all have multiple 7-footers, or near that, that can do damage in the paint and midrange.

Having Hartenstein healthy alongside Precious Achiuwa, behind Mitchell Robinson once he returns, will only bolster the Knicks’ chances of getting far in the postseason this time around.

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