Studs No Duds: Knicks beat the Nets to make it four in a row

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

One more game is on the cards as the New York Knicks have won four straight and sit only a half-game back from the second seed. The Brooklyn Nets, led by Cam Thomas, jumped out to an 11-0 start and a 13-2 run in the first quarter. The discipline of New York’s defense calmed the storm as the Knicks began the second half on a 21-7 run. They ultimately won the game with a final score of 111–107.

Led by Jalen Brunson, the winning attitude in the Knicks is contagious and shows itself in the team’s ambition until the season’s end. Contending teams like Boston, Milwaukee, and Denver have all taken their foot off the gas in the last five games. This may be the first season in a long time the credit is due, but New York has been on the wrong end of history so often. 

Studs: Jalen Brunson is playing at an MVP level

The second half of a back-to-back and Jalen Brunson’s level of production in game 81 is as cerebral as it has been all season. Dropping 35 points and 11 assists with no turnovers, Brunson has broken the glass ceiling and is now eighth on the NBA MVP ladder

The recognition shown doesn’t match what’s deserved, as Mike Breen mentioned on the broadcast, “He has had one of the greatest seasons in New York Knicks history.” Sitting fourth in points per game, fourth in most 30-point games, and second in most 40-point games this season, Jalen Brunson is one game shy of leading New York to 50 wins for the first time in 11 seasons and the second time in 24 seasons.

The upcoming game against Chicago will mark the third time this month the teams have faced off. Jalen Brunson is averaging 40 points and 9.5 assists over the previous matchups and looks to close the season on a high note Sunday afternoon. 

Studs: Mitchell Robinson protects the rim

Isaiah Hartenstein resting meant the next man up for the Knicks front court. Mitchell Robinson was New York’s starting center before his left ankle surgery, and his production since returning has been limited with minutes restrictions and getting back to game speed.

Against the Brooklyn Nets, Mitchell Robinson went to work, scoring 15 points and eight rebounds, with nine points and two blocks in the fourth quarter. A game-saving block was the apex of Robinson’s production as he looks ready for the playoffs. The rotating big men in New York’s rotation are unmatched in the Eastern Conference defensively, as Mitchell Robinson remains focal to the identity of the New York Knicks. 

Studs: OG Anunoby makes all the difference

The Knicks got off to a slow start, so priorities for the lockdown defender OG Anunoby were on the defensive end. In the third quarter, it was Anunoby to the rescue, scoring 15 points in the period on 85% from the floor. An Anunoby steal and reverse jam with ten minutes remaining in the third quarter shifted the momentum in New York’s favor as they extended the lead to 11. Anunoby scored more points in the third quarter than the entire Nets team.

This shows a testament to the engaged defense the Knicks can sustain and Anunoby’s ability to step up offensively when needed. Near the end of the game, Nets guard Cam Thomas had a shove for Jalen Brunson, but Anunoby had choice words with Thomas rather than letting him think he could get away with any ill will on the court. 

The cohesion and culture of New York has already shown to resonate with Anunoby. It meant a lot to Brunson that Anunoby was willing to go to bat for him.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Nets

New York has blown any preseason predictions out of the water. Now sitting comfortably as a top-four seed in the east and pushing for the second seed, the Knicks have sent shockwaves across the NBA landscape. A prominent leader in Jalen Brunson, with a phenomenal cast of high IQ players and a lockdown frontcourt, can run the table and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Test after test, the Knicks have defeated every contender at least once this season. Regular season matchups don’t have the same level of stakes as an NBA playoff series, but the mental conditioning and fatigue of the season cultivate a successful or underwhelming playoff. The Knick’s last game of the season is Sunday against the Chicago Bulls, and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau expects New York to finish the season strong

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