Knicks’ Jalen Brunson shuts down injury excuse for losing to Pacers

NBA: Playoffs-Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks, jalen brunson
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks star point guard Jalen Brunson is not one to make excuses when it comes to losing, and even though there was a clear disadvantage for New York throughout the playoffs, Brunson debunked the notion that injuries played a factor in their disappointing playoff finish.

“I hate the narrative,” Brunson said on the Roomates Show (h/t SNY). “Honestly, that kind of pissed me off. Yeah, we didn’t have a full team but I don’t want the narrative being ‘Oh they’re hurt so let’s give them a pass.’ No, we had chances to win that series and didn’t.”

The Knicks pushed the Pacers to a Game 7 despite missing several key players

Brunson had been carrying the load of the Knicks throughout the postseason and was on a historic scoring run. In 13 playoff games this year, he averaged 32.4 points and 7.5 assists per game, including a stretch of four consecutive 40-point games. He became just the third player in NBA history to have at least 420 total points and at least 90 assists through the first 13 games of a playoff run, joining LeBron James and Michael Jordan (h/t KnicksMuse on X).

The Knicks were up 2-0 in the second-round series against the Indiana Pacers before a hamstring injury to OG Anunoby took him out for the remainder of the series (he played only five minutes in Game 7). The team was already missing several key rotation players in Julius Randle, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Mitchell Robinson, and Brunson was battling a foot injury prior to Game 7, a game in which he suffered a fractured left hand that would have taken him out for the remainder of the playoffs had they won.

May 19, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) flexes his left hand during the third quarter of game seven of the second round of the 2024 NBA playoffs against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The rotation was so thin that Alec Burks and Precious Achiuwa, two guys who were out of the rotation entirely in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers, became the Knicks’ only available bench players for the last four games of the Pacers series. While they both provided quality minutes, the lack of depth was clearly not enough to handle the Pacers’ balanced attack.

The Knicks had a chance to go up 3-0 in the series despite being incredibly shorthanded, but an Andrew Nembhard heave at the end of the shot clock in the final seconds of regulation of Game 3 took that chance away from them. Ultimately, it was the difference maker in the series.

The Knicks are hopeful that next season will include better health

While they would have liked to get the opportunity to play the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the odds would have been heavily against them, as they would have been coming off of a seven-game series while also missing their best player going up against the best team in the NBA.

Next season, Brunson and the Knicks can look forward to hopefully having a healthy roster in time to make a deep playoff run and even have a strong chance to make their first finals appearance in over 25 years. But for now, Brunson isn’t buying the injury excuse.

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