Studs No Duds: Brunson and the Knicks defeat Milwaukee Bucks on the road

NBA: New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks
Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks‘ road trip got off to a rocky start with a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Friday night. Now visiting the Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard, another star-studded test had arrived for New York as teams gear up for the playoffs.

Jalen Brunson led all scorers with a 43-point masterclass, as he set the tone for the Knicks in this showdown. The depth of the New York Knicks continues to leave teams disheveled as the Milwaukee Bucks, with two all-stars, had no answer for Brunson and company down the stretch. The Knicks pulled away with a 122–109 win over the Bucks.

Studs: Jalen Brunson 

Over the last few games, the Knicks have had slow starts that ultimately become a detriment in closing time. Milwaukee came out the gate firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, and the Knicks responded with a 17-point quarter from Jalen Brunson.

Taking 14 shots in the quarter, only good things come from an aggressive Brunson as he looked to be in prime playoff mode. Scoring 11 straight for the Knicks in the first quarter, he followed it up with a 14-point 3rd quarter that saw the Knicks take the lead and sustain it the rest of the contest. Jalen Brunson finished the game with 43 points, six rebounds, and eight assists.

This game’s implication on playoff seeding raised the stakes substantially. The Milwaukee Bucks are now only one game ahead of New York for the 2nd seed in the East, as the Knicks remain tied for the third seed with the Orlando Magic.

The Bucks had no answer for Jalen Brunson, and New York looks to become the 2nd seed with a win over Chicago Tuesday night. 

Studs: Donte Dynamo 

The fourth quarter was Donte DiVincenzo. The flamethrower had 26 points with eight made threes, three of them in the final three minutes to put Milwaukee away. The former Milwaukee Buck, DiVincenzo is only two made threes shy of second place to Stephen Curry on three-pointers made this season.

So many questions have surrounded New York regarding where consistent offense will come from behind Jalen Brunson, and the answer was on display against the Bucks. It will be a group effort, led on this occasion by DiVincenzo, on a game-to-game basis to stay ready and be the next man up when needed.

Donte, averaging 20 points in his last six games, has been impressive all season and has something to prove this upcoming playoffs following his previous appearance with the Golden State Warriors. 

Studs: Road Warrior Bogdanovic 

The productivity from Bogdanovic as he’s been getting more acclimated in New York’s offense has been remarkable to see. His offensive IQ and shotmaking ability will be demoralizing for teams in the playoffs like it was down the stretch against the Milwaukee Bucks. With nine minutes remaining in the fourth, Bogdanovic hit a cold-blooded three to give the Knicks a 10-point lead then followed that with a fadeaway bucket over Antetokounmpo that left the Milwaukee crowd in awe.

Studs: Isaiah Hartenstein posts a double-double 

The assurance and insurance of Isaiah Hartenstein and Mitchell Robinson, both on the Knicks, is an underrated asset to the depth of the team. Scoring 18 points with ten rebounds, Hartenstein has been getting back to the production seen from him to start the new year.

Before the nagging left Achilles, Hartenstein was having streaks of seven games with double-digit rebounds, including five games of 15 rebounds or more.

The perfect storm of both big men being back right before the playoffs and looking ready to go puts the Knick’s chances of contention higher than most expect. Isaiah Hartenstein will be a reason the Knicks make shocking noise this upcoming playoffs. 

Studs: OG Anunoby plays lockdown defense

A quiet night offensively saw OG Anunoby put on a defensive clinic. Anunoby had four steals and two blocks as he was the primary defender on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Taking switches on Lillard and Middleton when needed, Anunoby showed why the Knicks were so good with him to start the year as he’s one of the best defenders in the NBA.

The Golden State Warriors, when building their dynasty, looked to Andre Iguodala as the missing piece. The Iguodala-like role that Anunoby plays for New York will put the Knicks in championship contention.

No Julius Randle and the Knicks dominated the second seed in the third quarter with an 18-3 Knicks run and again in the fourth with a 13-2 run. That’s what excellent defense does in crucial moments, and New York has the personnel led by Anunoby. 

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Bucks

There are no Duds in this one, as the Knicks looked like a cohesive unit in serious contention for the NBA’s richest prize. Never to take away the efforts and importance of Julius Randle, but the Knicks have the depth and ability on both ends to make a real run in the playoffs.

Josh Hart was ejected in the previous game against Chicago after a 31-point night in a win over Sacramento, and in his return against Milwaukee, his intangibles and tenacity made for a nine assist and nine rebound night. A huge three from Josh Hart extended the lead to four in the third quarter, and the Bucks never regained the lead again.

On Tuesday Night, the Knicks will have a rematch against the Chicago Bulls, as New York is now in the last season week of the regular season. Every game has playoff-seeding implications, and New York has a chance to be the second seed in the Eastern Conference. 

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