Shorthanded Knicks Hit With Massive Injury News Ahead of Game 2 vs. Pacers

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau

Getty Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the New York Knicks reacts.

The shorthanded New York Knicks barely survived Game 1 of their Eastern Conference second-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers with a 121-117 thriller on Monday, May 6, at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks will have to do it again with one less key rotation player. Their depleted frontcourt is further decimated as center Mitchell Robinson has been ruled out for Wednesday’s Game 2 due to a left ankle injury management. The Knicks later announced Robinson is done for the season with a stress injury to his left ankle and will be re-evaluated in 6-8 weeks.

They were already playing without three-time All-Star forward Julius Randle, who had a season-ending shoulder surgery.

Robinson played only 12 minutes off the bench in Game 1, scoring on an alley-oop dunk — the lone field goal made by the Knicks’ second unit.

The Pacers dominated them on bench scoring 46-3.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has only relied on a seven-man rotation in the playoffs but he extended it to eight in Game 1 with Precious Achiuwa playing four minutes off the bench.

Without Robinson, Thibodeau is left with no choice but to use Achiuwa extensively as Isaiah Hartenstein’s backup.

Achiuwa only saw action for four minutes in Game 1, scoring a free throw and pulling down one rebound. He also barely saw playing time in their first-round win against the Philadelphia 76ers, appearing in only two games.

But Achiuwa played solid in the regular season especially during Robinson’s lengthy absence while recovering from his ankle surgery. The 6-foot-8 Achiuwa averaged 8.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 26.1 minutes across 40 games without Robinson since the Knicks acquired him as part of the OG Anunoby trade.

Jalen Brunson Joins GOAT Company

Jalen Brunson continued his playoff brilliance with 43 points in the Knicks’ Game 1 win, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to have four straight 40-point games in the playoffs.

Brunson joined Hall of Famers Jerry West, who is atop the shortlist with six consecutive 40-point games in the postseason, Michael Jordan and Knicks legend Bernard King. Jordan and King both had four. Jordan was the last to do it before Brunson in the 1993 NBA Finals.

Brunson scored 21 points in the fourth quarter as he rallied the Knicks from a nine-point deficit.

He stopped his longtime teammate, Donte DiVincenzo, when he ribbed him when a reporter mentioned him in the same breath as Michael Jordan during their postgame media availability.

But the game-winning play was Jordanesque.

Facing a double team on top of the key, Brunson found Donte DiVincenzo for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 40 seconds left.

It was a play reminiscent of Jordan’s assist to Steve Kerr to win the 1997 NBA Finals.

“The little things can go a long way,” Brunson said. “So yeah, the 40 points are cool and all, but it’s the little things that help us win games like that. So I’m just happy to have the group of guys that I do.”

Brunson added six assists and six rebounds.

Pacers Star Questionable in Game 2

Brunson dominated the All-Star point guard matchup as Tyrese Haliburton could only score six points on six shots in the Pacers’ loss.

It turns out Haliburton is hampered by back spasms. He is listed as questionable to play in Game 2.

But Pacers coach Rick Carlisle expects his star point guard to play against the Knicks despite his back issues.

“At this time of year everybody’s got something going and he’s working at it, doing everything he can to keep himself feeling as good as possible,” Carlisle told reporters. “I’m confident he’ll play, but it’s a concern.”




Read More