Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau Sends 4-Word Message on Jalen Brunson’s Hot Streak

Tom Thibodeau

Getty Tom Thibodeau reacts during Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers on May 6.

Another day, another superstar performance for Jalen Brunson. He scored 40 or more points for a fourth-straight game, and the New York Knicks have a 1-0 lead in the Conference Semifinals.

According to a tweet from SportsCenter, Brunson’s 210 points over his last 5 playoff games are the most since Michael Jordan in 1993.

And his play is out of necessity for the Knicks, not luxury for the All-Star point guard.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau made sure to shut down any idea of Brunson’s play being the byproduct of “empty stats,” postgame.

“They’re not empty stats,” Thibodeau told SNY on May 6. “They’re stats that are impacting winning.”

He went on to detail how Brunson’s pressure on the defense opens things up for New York, even when he’s not scoring.

“If he gets double teamed, he doesn’t fight it, he gets off it,” Thibodeau continued. “If he gets into the paint and they collapse, or they overcommit, it also opens up second shot opportunities for us. We want to take advantage of it that way. We’ve got some great guys at offensive rebounding, making a second and third effort. So we can get shots that way as well. The overall leadership of all those guys, giving everything they have to the team and putting the team first.”

Brunson finished Game 1 with 43 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists in 43 minutes played.

And for the first time this postseason, it didn’t feel like that he was a one-man offense for the New York Knicks.

DiVincenzo, Hart Come Up Big in Game 1

In Game 1, Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart looked the part of the Villanova Wildcats teammates that won a national championship in 2016.

Because for the first time in the 2024 playoffs, they all had a great game in the victory over the Indiana Pacers.

DiVincenzo started off cold, shooting 2-for-7 in the first half.

But he rebounded in a big way in the second, going off for 15 points in the third quarter and 6 more in the fourth.

His confidence never wavers, as he told reporters postgame.

“I believe every shot that I shoot is going in,” DiVincenzo said after Game 1. “That’s my mentality, and I’ve had that all year. Make or miss, I believe the next one is going in.”

Elsewhere, as has become custom, Hart tackled the glass, grabbing 4 offensive and 9 defensive. His 24 points are his most in a game since an April 4, regular-season win over the Sacramento Kings.

Hart made sure to note that New York isn’t satisfied with their performance in Game 1, when speaking with reporters postgame.

“It wasn’t a good win for us.” Hart told SNY on May 6. “But a win’s a win.”

He played all 48 minutes, for the third time this postseason. The Knicks have won 2 of 3 when he goes the distance.

But they’re undefeated when all three former Wildcats score 20+ points, after the trio did so in Game 1.

Knicks Odds After Going Up 1-0

According to Land of Basketball, of 212 Conference Semifinals series in NBA history, 158 teams that take a 1-0 lead have gone on to win the series. That’s 74.5-percent of all teams.

With one more game at Madison Square Garden before going on the road to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the New York Knicks will look to take a 2-0 lead over the Pacers on their home floor.

And with everyone playing at full capacity, the odds are in their favor.

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