Studs No Duds: Knicks beat the Bulls to cap off the regular season with five straight wins

NBA: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

In the final regular season edition of Studs and Duds, the New York Knicks cap it off with a tremendous performance at Madison Square Garden. MVP Candidate Jalen Brunson led all scorers in dominant fashion and Donte DiVincenzo claimed the bronze trophy for three-pointers made on the season. The chemistry of the Knicks continues to propel them as a five-game winning streak secured the second seed while winning 50 games for the first time in 11 years. They capped off the regular season with a 120–119 overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Sunday afternoon.

Tom Thibodeau has built a strong culture in New York

There is a culture in New York, a distinction that can be credited to the system instituted by head coach Tom Thibodeau. Now in his 12th season as a head coach in the NBA, the expectations set for Thibodeau-led teams instill an unbridled tenacity and winning mentality. The depth of the Knicks is one caveat but the consistent humility and determination have been rewarded with the second seed in the Eastern Conference and Thibodeau’s first 50-win season in nine years.

A misunderstanding of Thibs seems to be the lengths he will go to win but that key ingredient has set the standard that saw players that weren’t willing to be effective on both ends left out of the rotation. To the dismay of many fans, Thibodeau never budged and this led to the departure of names like Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose.

Thibodeau’s expectations have been the attributes to distinguish the Knicks from once a laughing stock to a serious contender in the Eastern Conference.

Jalen Brunson is a legitimate MVP candidate

In a five-game winning streak to close out a successful season, Jalen Brunson averaged 39.4 points per game. A modern-day savant of the court, Brunson has utilized his approach and further cemented his legacy as one of the best players in franchise history. The national media is slowly recognizing that what Brunson is doing is nothing short of spectacular.

Then do it without Julius Randle for such a stretch, averaging 31 points and seven assists since Randle’s departure. The legacy of Brunson was made this season and he is walking into the realm of the greatest New York Knicks player of all time.

Now with more 40-point games than Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined this season, Brunson looks forward to the playoffs and making history once again. 

Donte DiVincenzo caps off an incredible first season with the Knicks

Following a win that saw DiVincenzo play 52 minutes he took to Instagram to announce the birth of his first child. Only Stephen Curry has more games with five or more three-pointers made as Donte finished with 25 points and seven rebounds in an overtime finale against the Chicago Bulls.

This was the best season of DiVincenzo’s career. A career-high 15 points per game with the 14th most made threes in a single season in NBA history. Donte also finished third in most threes made this season only behind Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry. The decision to start DiVincenzo ultimately was the catalyst in what began as a snowball effect into an updated Knicks rotation.

Since becoming a primary starter DiVincenzo has averaged 17.7 points per game. The efficiency and consistency of Donte merit him an opportunity for Most Improved Player of the Year. 

READ MORE: Knicks given 2nd-highest odds to draft Bronny James in 2024

Takeaways from the Knicks’ Season Finale win over the Bulls

The Knicks this season have been a rollercoaster of injuries, new lineups, and disgruntled players yet have finished the season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference. In the words of Herm Edwards, “You play to win the game,” as Knicks fans were advocating a loss to finish the season and remain a third seed.

The dichotomy that exists between Knicks fans and the team itself is built on a history of letdowns and disappointments but what this season has shown is to expect the unexpected. Acquiring OG Anunoby and becoming legitimately the best defense in the league was the chess move of the Knicks season. Adding him to a collection of other highly skilled defenders and the floor of the Knicks raised significantly, as they now had an answer for matchups like Boston and Milwaukee.

Bojan Bogdanovic has had to adjust coming off the bench but in the most recent matchups against Boston, Miami, and Milwaukee he is averaging 15 points per game. The New York Knicks are rolling on all cylinders at the perfect time and look to shock the world in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.

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