Knicks Suffer Tough Elimination Amidst Injuries

By Tate Hutchinson

After taking a 3-2 series lead, the injury-battered Knicks dropped the last two games of the series to end their season and playoff run with another disappointing second-round exit. After an electric first-round victory against Joel Embiid’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Knicks looked poised to build on last year’s success with a deep playoff run. But Indiana’s high-pace offense, rebounding skill, and incredible shotmaking ability proved to be a potent threat, sinking the Knicks in seven games.

In a potential closeout Game 6 in Indianapolis, New York’s Villanova trio of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart, and Donte DiVincenzo disappointed from their high playoff standards, shooting a combined 19-of-48 from the field. And despite great efforts from Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa, the Pacers’ star players shone out in Indy. Siakam scored 25 on 11/21 shooting, and five other Pacers scored double-digit points on 50%+ efficiency. 

Back at home for the final game of the series, the Knicks’ defensive specialist OG Anunoby insisted on playing through his hamstring injury that kept him out of Games 3 through 6. The wind was taken out of the New York team when Anunoby re-aggravated the injury four minutes into the game, disrupting the game plan, which was further exacerbated with leading scorer Brunson went out late in the third. Although DiVincenzo exploded for 39 points with a team playoff record of 9 threes and reserve guard Alec Burks put up 26, the speedy Indiana team was able to capitalize on the off-kilter Knicks.

The Pacers’ entire rotation put up incredible shotmaking performances, and it appeared that New York’s injury losses had finally caught up with them. The brakes went out, though, when Brunson, the Knicks’ superstar guard, suffered a broken hand late in the third quarter. From there, Haliburton and the Pacers were able to cruise to a series win in front of a stunned and heartbroken MSG crowd.

With key players such as Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, Bojan Bogdanović, OG Anunoby, and now Jalen Brunson all hurt, the Knicks’ horrific injury luck was certain to doom them. But props must be given to the incredible effort the team displayed throughout the adversity to even make it one game away from their first conference finals appearance since 2000.

However, with coach Tom Thibodeau’s notoriously high minute loads, there is some question whether such a tight rotation season-long contributes to players getting hurt when the playoffs come around. But no matter what, the horrible timing, severity, and frequency of injuries stifled the team’s great potential.

The Knicks finished the regular season with their first top-two finish in the East in over a decade, and with a bevy of talent returning for next year, they hope to finally take their leap to playoff triumph in 2025. Even though this season ended in heartbreak, the Knicks will hope to limit injuries and build chemistry for success in the upcoming season.

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