Studs and Duds from Knicks’ sluggish home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) looks to drive past Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) in the second quarter at Madison Square Gar
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

To kick off a festive weekend, the Milwaukee Bucks were in town to face the New York Knicks ahead of their Christmas Day Matchup. Following consecutive games of stellar defense from the Knicks, an overall abysmal performance was on display Saturday afternoon in Madison Square Garden. Jalen Brunson played a great game, but in the end, it was Milwaukee coasting to a 130-111 victory

Studs: Jalen Brunson puts in an All-Star effort

Jalen Brunson has heard the noise around his name as of late. The future All-Star shot 57% from the floor in a 36-point and seven assists effort. With a brilliant display of shotmaking ability and footwork, Brunson outplayed the seven-time all-star Damian Lillard down the stretch. Unfortunately for Brunson, he was one of few to show up for the New York Knicks in this contest. 

Almost a Dud: Julius Randle with a poor start, yet a strong finish

Julius Randle is the tone-setter for the New York Knicks. No matter how Brunson is performing, it’s Randle’s consistency and aggressiveness that tell the tale of the Knicks’ outcomes.

Starting the game rather poorly on 2/7 from the field set the Knicks back, but Randle showed an incredible recovery from such a poor start. Finishing 6/10 from the floor and 9/9 from the free throw line, Knicks faithful are unaccustomed to this, as a poor start from Randle usually indicates doom for his performance the rest of the game.

Finishing with 26 points and eight rebounds on 60.7 TS%, look forward to a better start from Randle on Christmas Day. 

Duds: The role players disappeared 

The supporting cast for the Knicks was not to be seen in this contest. Three prominent rolemen, Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and Josh Hart combined for just 11 points on 4/17 from the field. There is no legitimate third option on this Knicks team, so when a game with as big of an opponent as Milwaukee comes around, the “Other Guys” are crucial to how far the Knicks can go regardless of the performances from Randle and Brunson. 

Duds: The Knicks need a third option

RJ Barrett has been playing well below expectations as of late. The fifth-year forward has been averaging 38% from the field and 26% from three in his last 16 games.

There is coddling from Knicks faithful in regards to Barrett, but that ship has sailed when it comes to being a potential contender for an NBA championship. With constant discussions on who the Knicks should trade for, Barrett seems to avoid major talks. However, a change of scenery may benefit Barrett as the Knicks look to make moves to put themselves in winning conversations. 

Duds: The Knicks’ defense continues to underperform against top competition

The Knicks are now 0-6 on the season versus the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics. Three of the Bucks’ best shooting games this season have come against the New York Knicks. 

Following a great defensive showing against the Nets and Lakers, New York gave up 130 points to a team that’s seen as one of the best in the East. In the game where you expect them to play the hardest, even Coach Thibodeau mentioned low energy from Knicks players. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ loss to the Bucks

Ahead of a Christmas Day showdown, the New York Knicks looked like they weren’t in the same class as Milwaukee. The Knicks shot 44% from the floor and 31% from three while allowing Milwaukee 52% and an astounding 50% from downtown.

Expect better performances from the supporting cast and Julius Randle while simultaneously expecting a better game from the Bucks’ Damian Lillard. Scoring 19 points on 37% from the floor, executing a game plan on Damian will be key to the Knicks winning Monday afternoon. 

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