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New York Knicks have been struggling recently and Julius Randle seemed like he wanted to fight everybody as he lost his cool against the referees and Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. The Knicks recent loss to the Clippers further cemented the importance of Jalen Brunson’s presence offensively. The Knicks were on the losing end of a 106-95 score at the Crypto.com arena. Brunson’s foot health could very well be the difference in the Knicks finishing the season as a Play-In Tournament team or above sixth seed in the East. Contests are becoming “must-win” games as the end of the regular season quickly approaches. Anything could happen during the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau stated that Brunson is day-to-day and X-rays were negative. The Knicks starting point guard has missed four of the past five games after being injured during a win on March 3 over Miami.
The Knicks shot 35.6% from the field and 22.6% from three point land. Julius Randle and the Knicks had no answers for Kawhi Leonard as he finished with 38-points in what many called an overly physical fame which wasn’t consistently called on both sides. The game was similar to a bar fight in terms of physicality, it was almost like the referees swallowed their whistles during certain parts of the game.
Currently the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, and Washington Wizards consists of the four teams respectively standings-wise in Play-In Tournament territory. The fight for eighth and seventh seed will be crucial. The prize for those battling it out in the Play-In could also be a curse, unless the winner of the eighth seed prefers to see the Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Those teams mentioned are well matched amongst one another and the Knicks do not want to be in a situation where they could slip to the eighth or seventh seed, even though the Knicks seem to match up beautifully with the Boston Celtics.
RJ Barrett’s Inconsistencies Continues During Rough Stretch.
There were a couple possessions during the Knick loss to the Clippers when the cameraman zoomed in and caught RJ Barrett wincing in pain, however it wasn’t clear where the pain was coming from. His game has been off lately and some speculate it’s due to an injury he’s been playing through. Some are also speculating he’s out of game shape. His lack of aggressiveness is glaring defensively. Opposing offenses are now targeting RJ Barrett’s defense. It’s bad when the Knicks go on a good offensive run once the bench unit comes in and Josh Hart replaces RJ Barrett in the lineup. Consistency seems to not be an overnight attribute. Barrett is a gym rat, and his work ethic is trusted and raved about just like the rest of the Knicks roster. Will this too pass? Many fans have no choice but to be patient, however, if Barrett needs physical healing from an injury, resting would benefit both himself and a deep Knicks roster.
Knicks Squeeze Out Gritty Win Against Los Angeles Lakers.
The Sunday night victory on the road in Los Angeles was tight, however, two of the top Knicks leading scorers in Barrett and Randle had 30 and 33 points respectively. Isaiah Hartenstein finished with 10 rebounds and the highest plus/minus – +17. Knicks once again continued shooting poorly from three point territory. They shot 29.1- percent from downtown while the Lakers shot 33.3- percent from three. RJ Barrett stepped up when Knicks needed him the most. Knicks win over the Lakers ended a three game losing streak. This was their first win without Brunson since the well-needed double overtime victory at Boston.
Overall, the East is a beast! Teams are jockeying for position in the Eastern Conference and the Knicks can’t afford to let games slip away while attempting to solidify the fifth seed over the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets are playing good basketball as of late proven by their ability to defeat the Denver Nuggets on Sunday by a score of 122-120 at Denver. The landmines in the East are located all over the play-in tournament portion of the standings. Knicks seem to make drama a part of their game endings often. Many hope this won’t be the case when it comes to the standings as the regular season comes to a close.