Studs and Duds: Knicks show resiliency en route to big win over Indiana Pacers

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) drives to the basket against Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard (2) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have been on Victory Road. Missing players Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, and Mitchell Robinson seemed irreparable, but under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau, New York has coasted to a prolific winning streak. A matchup against a conference-rival Indiana Pacers team seemed to signal defeat, but a surge in the fourth quarter extended the Knicks winning streak to nine games. New York ultimately topped Indiana with a final score of 109-105.

Studs: Jalen Brunson was born to play basketball 

Jalen Brunson is the basketball king of New York City. Now a first-time All-Star, the performances of Brunson this season have garnered tremendous fanfare for him and the New York Knicks. In the last 10 games, Brunson is averaging 32 points on 52.5% from the field.

A cerebral approach to basketball makes Brunson nearly unstoppable when he gets going. Indiana resorted to attempting to get more physical with Brunson and only awoke a more aggressive play style. Standing 6-foot-1, Brunson has a three-level style of play that will allow him to have this impact for years to come.

Studs: The Knicks have incredible durability 

Most teams with the Knicks’ misfortunes as of late would be barely above water. Yet, remarkably, the adversity has almost made New York an even better team. Sustainability remains in question, but for the time being, the well-known “next man up” approach has spelled success for the New York Knicks.

The absence of four rotation players justifies a slight regression, but other players, such as Josh Hart and Precious Achiuwa, fit the Knicks’ mold so well they’ve been able to withstand and maintain.

In his last five games, Achiuwa is averaging 9.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Amid Robinsons’ lengthy absence and Hartenstein’s resurgence, Achiuwa has held the fort down in the front court, much to the pleasure of Coach Thibodeau.

Josh Hart has been a constant disruptor with his prominence rebounding and well-played defense. In the last three games without Randle’s boards, it’s been Josh Hart to the rescue with an average of 11.3 rebounds per game since Randle’s departure. 

Studs: The Miles McBride emergence 

Miles “Deuce” McBride has shown flashes of brilliance in his scoring ability all season. In the win over Indiana, McBride was a huge part in the Knicks ultimately regaining the lead after he scored 11 straight points in the second half.

Without Quentin Grimes in the rotation, the added variation of McBride’s game has made him mesh well in lineups with All-Star Jalen Brunson. As Brunson is the focal point of opposing defenses, McBride is usually the wide-open man, allowing him to convert on better looks. In the last 15 contests, Deuce has averaged 9.6 points per game. 

“I think the fans have always shown love for me. Now that shots are going in, I think they like me a lot more.”

Miles McBride via SNY

Duds: The Knicks lack stamina

A lack of stamina has quietly emerged with various players on extended minutes during this winning streak. In the first half against Indiana, the transition defense and awareness of New York were absent as they went down as much as 15 points before regaining their identity in the third and taking over in the fourth quarter.

This isn’t anything to raise constant speculation, but the Knicks are a contending team. Being in winning conversation now comes with being held to the highest standard every game. Much is attributed to Coach Thibodeau, as players take pride in welcoming the challenge to be the best and hardest-working defense in the NBA.

No Randle, Grimes, Robinson, or Anunoby will be a factor in sustainability on the defensive end, yet the players remaining are more than capable of getting the job done. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Pacers

A celebratory night in the Garden as New York wished congratulations to two all-stars for this season. This Knicks team competes every game as they look to extend their winning streak against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Much discourse has surrounded the speculation of LeBron James in trade discussions by the Los Angeles Lakers before their most recent win over the Boston Celtics. Never knowing how unpredictable the NBA business is, this may be the last time LeBron, in a Lakers uniform, plays in Madison Square Garden. Knicks faithful will be scrambling for information on whether OG Anunoby is available for this star-studded contest on Saturday night. 

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