The New York Knicks are officially matching up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 2023 postseason and, already, it seems as though the thought of squaring off against Jalen Brunson has JB Bickerstaff and company scrambling for a gameplan.
Following their regular season finale on Easter Sunday, Cleveland’s headman discussed the Cavs’ upcoming matchup against the Knickerbockers to the media and described the point guard’s last bout against them as something that has his club on “high alert” entering the quarterfinals.
“The game that Jalen Brunson had put us on high alert,” Bickerstaff said. “I think that’s a good thing for us. To have that appropriate fear of your opponent…We’ll use it, we’ll watch the film, we’ll figure it out, and we’ll be better.”
The outing Bickerstaff is referring to is their March 31 matchup out in Cleveland where Jalen Brunson finished with a career-high 48 points to go along with 9 assists, 4 rebounds, and, ultimately, a 130-116 win for the Knicks.
Throughout his tenure as a whole with New York, in four games against the Cavaliers the 26-year-old is sporting impressive averages of 25.3 points, 6.0 assists, 3.0 rebounds, and a steal whilst shooting a highly efficient 47.5% from the field and 45.5% from distance.
Knicks Star Julius Randle Could Return for Game 1
Outside of game planning for Jalen Brunson heading into their first-round matchup against the Knicks, Cleveland may also wish to start prepping for Julius Randle sooner than originally expected, as Sam Amico of Hoops Wire reported on April 10 that the All-Star big man is targeting his return to the hardwood for Saturday’s Game 1.
“Multiple sources have told Hoops Wire that Randle is targeting a return for Game 1. But for now, his status appears to be very much in limbo,” Amico wrote.
Randle has been sidelined for nearly two weeks after suffering a grueling left ankle sprain on March 29 against the Miami Heat. He is scheduled to be re-evaluated on April 13 as per a report by SNY’s Ian Begley.
Through 77 games played, the 28-year-old went on to put forth a career-best regular season with stellar averages of 25.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 45.9% from the floor.
In his last outing against the Cavaliers, Julius Randle went on to post a whopping 36 points to go along with 13 rebounds and 4 assists. Led by his efforts, the Knicks managed to scrape out a 105-103 victory.
RJ Barrett Sounds Off on 2022-23 Knicks
Following their regular-season finale against the Indiana Pacers Sunday, RJ Barrett was asked to reflect on his fourth year in the association and, in turn, try to note what he’s learned that he believes can help the team come the playoffs.
In response, the former third overall selection issued a boastful statement about the roster depth that the Knicks possesses.
“It feels good to be just on this team with so many players who can play well on any given night and bring anything to the table. I think it makes our team just so deadly. That’s what I take from the season, and just like continuing to stick with it.”
From an individual standpoint, Barrett finished off his fourth season with the Knicks boasting per-game averages of 19.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.8 assists.