Studs and Duds: Knicks get back to their winning ways over 76ers

New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo (0) reacts after his three pointer against the Philadelphia 76ers during the fourth quarter at Wells Fargo Center
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The focus was on winning Thursday night as the New York Knicks visited the Wells Fargo Center to face the Philadelphia 76ers. With a depleted roster, the level of play from the current rotation indicates the best has yet to come for the Knicks. With minor scoring runs throughout the contest by Philadelphia, it was New York, in control of the entire contest, leading by as much as 26 points before ultimately winning 110-96

Studs: Bojan Bogdanovic is on a heater 

The absence of Julius Randle has left an air of anticipation regarding New York’s ceiling. The trade to acquire Bogdanovic was great insurance and added incredible depth to the rotation. In his best game as a Knick so far, Bogdanovic scored 22 points while going 100% from beyond the arc with six made threes.

A common saying has been that going downhill, Brunson has Bojan in one corner and Donte DiVincenzo in the opposing one. Both guys’ knockdown shooting adds a legitimate level of playoff pedigree to an already great Knicks team. Julius Randle has indicated he’s not certain of a timetable for his return from injury, but he is recovering well.

The insurance Bojan Bogdanovic brings suggests the Randle injury was bad enough that New York felt getting a replacement for him was necessary. Bojan isn’t Randle, but there are aspects to his game that add to the Knicks’ importance on passing and executing better in transition. The laser Bojan adds to the dominant versatility that exists within New York, and in Randle’s return, the Knicks can become the most stacked team in the Eastern Conference. 

Studs: Villanova Home game

The 76ers fanbase is one of the proudest in the NBA — until the New York Knicks come to town. With Villanova ties throughout the rotation cementing themselves, the Philadelphia natives can’t help cheering for New York’s favorite team.

Jalen Brunson had an off night shooting 27.8% yet finished with 21 points and 12 assists. The indication of a huge game is on the way from Brunson, but getting to the free throw line and keeping the attention on himself while creating easy looks for teammates made for an insurmountable lead by New York.

Josh Hart has been stellar since the release of his and Brunson’s “Roommate Show” podcast. Since the first episode, Hart has averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 5.4 rebounds. Hart has been consistently dominant on both sides of basketball while being a great advocate for players looking to make money in extracurricular ventures aside from the NBA.

Donte DiVincenzo has been lights out this entire season for the Knicks. Villanova’s own March Madness star has cemented himself as one of the best three-point shooting players in the association. In 34 minutes played, DiVincenzo scored 16 points while making four from beyond the arc to add to his now top-three status for most made threes. Only trailing Doncic and Curry, DiVincenzo has been a luxury for the New York Knicks, and the playoffs will be where the entire nation gets a look at how good DiVincenzo is. In February, DiVincenzo averages 23 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists. 

Studs: Precious Achiuwa doesn’t miss

The craftiness, assertiveness, and skill level of Precious Achiuwa leave one to imagine what was going on with his previous residence in Toronto. Adding his touch to the best frontcourt rotation in the league, Achiuwa has not disappointed.

In his last five appearances, Achiuwa is averaging 15.4 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. On top of the hustle plays, Achiuwa has even expanded his game making way for another stretch five and a more prominent role in New York’s rotation. In February, Precious Achiuwa and Josh Hart grabbed the most rebounds by any duo in the league.

Duds: Knicks still hindered by injuries

The only issue that’s hindering New York is health. Usually, the greatest attribute of a team under the “luck” category, getting back a sound rotation and a designated closing five before the playoffs, will make the well-rounded Knicks even more opportunistic.

Before the resuming of the season, press conferences were held with Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and OG Anunoby, making promising remarks to return to action before the season’s end. Anunoby, in particular, looks forward to going on another dominant run as a catalyst to dominance in the playoffs.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the 76ers 

The Knicks handled business accordingly against the 76ers. Coming off a four-game losing streak with the right mentality and executing to a high level speaks to the camaraderie throughout the rotation. An excellent coaching job by Tom Thibodeau this season won’t go unnoticed.

Looking ahead, New York hosts the Boston Celtics. With the league’s best record, the indication is that New York stands no chance, but even keeping it close without rotation pieces will spark great discourse for New York when fully healthy. 

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