Brunson was adamant he wouldn’t rest if he could play over the Knicks’ final three games, even after clinching a playoff berth.
“I love to play,” Brunson said on Tuesday (April 4) as they prepared to face the Pacers on Wednesday (April 5). “I think being in a rhythm is great. If I’m able to go out there and play, I’ll go out and play.”
However, the Knicks disagreed, especially after they had already locked up the fifth seed after the Brooklyn Nets lost to Minnesota Timberwolves later that day.
Eight hours before Wednesday’s tip-off, the Knicks announced Brunson would enter load management.
It will mark the 12th game Brunson will miss this season, but the first time he will sit out with no apparent serious injury.
The Knicks have a 6-5 record without their star point guard. But with nothing left at stake, they chose to rest and save Brunson from any untoward injury ahead of the playoffs.
Brunson joins Julius Randle (left ankle sprain) on the sidelines.
Meanwhile, RJ Barrett remains listed as questionable in the latest NBA’s official injury report due to illness even after he declared on Tuesday that he’s ready and available to play.
The Pacers will continue to be without their top playmaker Tyrese Haliburton (right ankle sprain and sore left elbow), 3-and-D wing Chris Duarte (left ankle soreness), while their starting center Myles Turner is listed questionable with left ankle soreness.
Jalen Brunson Shocked at Mavericks’ Struggles
In the same Tuesday post-practice presser, Brunson was asked about his reaction to his former team Dallas Mavericks’ struggles this season.
“I am surprised. I honestly have no comment about that. It’s definitely surprising,” Brunson said.
The Mavericks have never been the same since Brunson left them in the offseason to sign with the Knicks for four years, $104 million. They fumbled twice in locking up Brunson last season to a much lower four-year contract at $55.5 million, which his party was amenable to take, according to various reports, most recently reported by Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.
By the time the playoffs arrived last season, Brunson’s stocks had gone up after smoking Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz in the first round. The Mavericks chose not to pay and let him walk away.
Donovan Mitchell Eager to Face Knicks
Last summer, Mitchell thought he was headed home to New York to play for his hometown team Knicks. Instead, the Jazz chose to send him to Cleveland.
That only intensifies the drama surrounding the Knicks-Cavaliers’ first-round showdown.
“It’s full circle. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Mitchell after scoring 42 points in a 130-116 loss to the Knicks. “What kid wouldn’t want to grow up and play against his hometown team in the playoffs?
While Cleveland.com reported on March 17 that the Cavaliers were privately hoping to face the Nets, instead of the Knicks, in the first round, Mitchell had none of it.
“It’s a storybook [matchup],” Mitchell said. “It’s something that’s special and near and dear to me to be able to play playoff games in front of my friends and family. A team that I grew up watching. Against an assistant coach over there (Johnnie Bryant) who basically taught me everything I know at this point. It’s great, and I’m excited about the challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun if it happens.”
Now, it’s happening.