The New York Knicks are facing an uphill climb to stop a three-game slide without their starting point guard and arguably their best player, Jalen Brunson.
New York coach Tom Thibodeau said Brunson is day-to-day with a bruised left foot, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has painted a bleak picture for the Knicks moving forward in their current West Coast trip.
“I’m told that it’s increasingly unlikely that the Knicks will have Jalen Brunson back for the last two games of this west coast road trip [Sunday] against the Lakers on ABC, then Tuesday, in Portland, then they’re off for three days.”Adrian Wojnarowski via NBA Countdown
The Knicks are 3-4 without Brunson this season.
Julius Randle relapsed Saturday during their failed comeback bid against the Clippers without Brunson’s calming leadership.
Saturday’s loss dropped the Knicks to sixth place in the Eastern Conference behind their crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, who have won three of their last four games.
Thibodeau said Brunson’s foot injury isn’t the same as Grimes had at the start of the season when he missed the entire training camp and their six games.
Without Brunson for an extended period, the Knicks, who appeared a lock for a postseason berth a week ago, suddenly becomes vulnerable.
Brunson’s injury came at the worst time possible. The Knicks have the ninth-easiest schedule left, but their next fives games, including Sunday night’s matchup against the surging Lakers, are the most challenging part.
After the Lakers Sunday and Trail Blazers on Tuesday, the Western Conference’s top-seed Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves await them.
If they can’t come together and survive Brunson’s absence on this West Coast trip, they could find themselves fighting for a favorable spot in the play-in tournament rather than a homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
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