New York Knicks turn focus to playoff series with Cleveland Cavaliers after falling to narrow Indiana Pacers defeat at MSG… but injured star Jalen Brunson insists: ‘We are not done yet’
It was a message sent out before the game, but after the New York Knicks surrendered to defeat against the Indiana Pacers it was the words from the injured Jalen Brunson that will have appeased fans at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.
Brunson was out with a hand injury but spoke to supporters in the buildup at MSG with a message of defiance before the post-season series against the Cleveland Cavaliers: ‘We’re not done yet. See you in the playoffs.’
The Pacers recorded a 139-136 comeback win to close out the regular season. New York led by double-digits at multiple points throughout the game but were unable to hold onto the lead without superstars Julius Randle and Brunson.
Post-game, coach Tom Thibodeau vowed to learn the lessons from regular season as he prepares his team to face the Cavs.
‘Tomorrow we’ll dig in and lay out the plan, and just get ready,’ he said. ‘You play 82 games, it tells you a lot and at the conclusion of the season you know exactly where you stand. And then you get ready for whatever is next. The next step for us are the playoffs.
The New York Knicks are focused on preparing for the playoffs despite the loss to the Pacers
Obi Toppin led the way for New York with 34 points as Julius Randle sat out with an injury
Jalen Brunson spoke to Knicks fans before the game and insisted the team has more to offer
‘I think we’ve made great strides but this a greater challenge and it’s the next challenge that’s in front of us. So we’ve got to understand how important studying is, preparation is and go from there.’
There were positives for the Knicks, despite the loss. Obi Toppin took advantage of Randle’s absence and scored a game high 34 points, while Immanuel Quickley was again impressive in a starting role after recording 30 points.
Quickley would go on to mention the importance of players like himself and Toppin being able to play well when their names are called on heading into the post season.
‘I feel like guys had to step up which is what we all need in the playoffs,’ said Quickley. ‘ Without Jalen and Julius, Obi played well, QG played well [Quentin Grimes], Isiah [Hartenstien] played well, Josh [Hart] played well, everybody so it’s just about getting better so when your name is called in the playoffs.’
The matchup is against the Cavs will create an interesting combination of styles due to the Knicks affinity for scoring at the rim while the Cavs have two of the league’s best rim protectors, along with two great three-point shooters in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.
‘It’s a good matchup for sure,’ said RJ Barrett. ‘They definitely have obviously a really, really good player over there. A solid lineup, they play really well together it’s gonna be a good one, I’m personally excited so we’ll see.’
Quickley would go on to add: ‘They’re a really good team, well coached, well put together, it’s going to take our best effort.’
‘Very skilled players, can do a little bit of everything. Shoot the ball, get their teammates involved they can defend, so it’s going to be a good challenge.’
Following the game New York’s players remained on the court signing autographs, throwing t-shirts and celebrating the successful season with fans who decided to stick around for a few extra minutes.
Immanuel Quickley registered 30 points while filling in for Jalen Brunson against the Pacers
Coach Tom Thibodeau stressed the importance of studying and being prepared in the playoffs