Disappointing end to playoffs doesn’t diminish Knicks’ bright future

    It might be difficult for fans to hear after a Game 7 loss at home, but the New York Knicks are a team on the rise. Despite being eliminated at the hands of the rival Indiana Pacers on Sunday, and even having it happen after squandering a 3-2 series lead, this postseason proved why the Knicks will be a contender for years to come. 

    The hype of the first Game 7 for the Knicks in 24 years slowly evaporated once the game got underway. Indiana dominated most of the game and ended up winning 130-109. And the Game 7 loss came two days after falling 116-103 in Game 6. New York failed twice to clinch the series and advance to the franchise’s first Eastern Conference Finals since 2000. 

    Obviously, losing a playoff series, especially to a rival, stings. But after getting over the initial disappointment, Knicks fans should be excited about the future, maybe more so now than in any offseason of recent memory. 

    Excuses may not make any loss feel better, but the Knicks do have one legitimate excuse that can help explain why they lost the series — health. Unlike Indiana, who was able to enjoy most of its complete roster, New York, who entered the postseason undermanned, became consistently more banged up throughout the playoffs. 

    To their credit, the Knicks still managed to finish as the No. 2 seed in the East after losing Julius Randle in January. New York then won a tough series over the Philadelphia 76ers without Randle as well. Just being without Randle would have been enough for New York fans to wonder “What if?” in and of itself, but he wasn’t the only key loss to injury. OG Anunoby missed three games in the second round with a hamstring injury. He did return for Game 7, granted he was only able to play four minutes. 

    There aren’t many teams who could endure those key losses alone and bounce back to even reach a Game 7 in the second round. For that, Knicks fans should be proud of what their team achieved. 

    Most importantly, the vibes are good. The 2023-2024 season will also go down as one that brought Madison Square Garden back to life, mostly due to Jalen Brunson emerging as a star. In fact, he, not only became the true top player and leader of the Knicks, but he put together a historic postseason, too. And Brunson still has two more years left on his current deal, granted he will have a player option in the final year.  

    In addition to Brunson, Miles “Deuce” McBride went from a gritty role player to a household name throughout the season and then stepped up even more when called upon in the playoffs. McBride was rewarded for his efforts with a $13 million extension in December, keeping the WVU product in New York for three more years. 

    Donte DiVincenzo, who had multiple 30-point playoff performances of his own, just completed the first of his four-year contract with the Knicks. 

    So while some may view the 2024 playoffs as a missed opportunity, the Knicks have key players locked up and should be poised to make another run next year. That’s also not even taking into account the very real possibility of New York adding one more star to the current group. 

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