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Assessing the Knicks, Cav Sack Coach & One More Wemby Update

Four teams still remain in contention, but two hold big leads in their series and look set to meet in the 2023-24 NBA Finals.

Looking Ahead In New York

It’s almost fitting that Jalen Brunson ended the NBA season sidelined with a hand injury.

His New York Knicks have been riddled with injuries throughout the post-season. Still, Brunson has been good enough to keep them competitive. His injury ended that competitiveness, though. Donte DiVincenzo’s 39 points weren’t enough for the Knicks to advance. The Indiana Pacers did it easy in Game 7, winning 130-107 to book their place in the Eastern Conference Finals.

As the Knicks start to look ahead to the 2024-25 NBA season and possible trade scenarios around Julius Randle, we must first look back at Brunson’s campaign.

There is a strong argument for him being the best Knicks player since Patrick Ewing.

He averaged 28.7 points per game throughout the season to lead the Knicks to a 50-32 record for 2nd in the East and a first All-Star appearance. In the playoffs, he bumped his average up to 32.6 points per game to have Madison Square Garden eating out of his hand.

The Michael Jordan comparisons have been floating around Anthony Edwards of late, but it’s Brunson who scored 40+ points five times in an eight-game span, becoming the first player since Jordan to do it in the playoffs.

Brunson is the future of the Knicks. He’s one of the best players in the NBA and still getting better. It’s now up to the front office to put the right pieces around him. Randle’s name is already being thrown up as trade bait.

“The Knicks are not trying to trade Randle, but they recognize that their quest for a star could require having to do so. If a suitable target does not pop up this summer, then they could turn their eyes to the 2025 trade deadline, hoping to land one then.” – Fred Katz, The Athletic

Zach LaVine and Donovan Mitchell have been mentioned as possible targets. Mitchell is the number one option, and his decision will reshape the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, he doesn’t guarantee championship contention for the Knicks. They ranked 10th defensively this season and adding Mitchell won’t improve them there. He has enough post-season struggles, despite performing well in this one, that you’d have to question his effectiveness at the pointy end.

The NBA is good when the Knicks are good. Can both be great in 2024-25?

Cavs Sack Bickerstaff

J.B. Bickerstaff spent four-and-a-half seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There is no questioning their improvement.

They featured in the playoffs three times and won their first series without LeBron James since 1993 with him in charge. However, he won’t be there for the 2024-25 NBA season.

As expected, the decision revolves around Donovan Mitchell:

“Donovan Mitchell and J.B. Bickerstaff’s relationship was something that concerned the Cavs. It was absolutely a factor in the decision to fire him. They’re going to protect their star player, that is what they’re going to do. But this coaching move and the person that they hire will be Donovan Mitchell-related.”

The pressure will be on the next coach to display obvious improvement early. Kenny Atkinson and James Borrego are said to be the leading candidates for the job. Perhaps more importantly, how Mitchell responds – provided he extends his deal – will be the key to it all.

One More Wembanyama Update

We knew it would be a bit like this before the NBA season tipped off; Victor Wembayama updates all year whether or not he dominated or disappointed.

As expected, the Frenchman has dominated. He’s been setting records and dropping jaws all season while averaging 21.4 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.6 blocks per game.

It’s the 3.6 blocks that have contributed to him achieving something no other rookie has in NBA history: Making the All-Defensive First Team.

The Spurs finished the season ranked 21st in defensive rating but Wembanyama’s influence is undeniable. He is changing the game with the way he forces players out of the paint and alters shots. Ignoring the numbers, Wembanyama finished on top of the list when players were asked to name the best defender in the NBA.

His potential is scary.

Quote Of The Week

Pressure Mounting On Timberwolves

We know better than to write a team off from 2-0 down. The Minnesota Timberwolves know all too well how quickly a lead like that can slip.

But now 0-2 down themselves, the pressure is mounting. The Dallas Mavericks haven’t played particularly well but won the opening two games of the series – in Minnesota.

Anthony Edwards has struggled. The Mavericks are sending plenty of traffic his way, forcing others to take and make shots, but they’re not making enough of them at the moment. Like the Nuggets, the Mavericks are taking the ‘anybody but Ant’ approach to defence.

“I’m turning down a lot of shots.” – Anthony Edwards

He spoke about passing up his own shots for others being the better play, “but sometimes the better play is just to shoot it.”

With a 0-3 deficit staring him in the face, Edwards looks set to put the team on his shoulders in Game 3 as a $2.15 and +2.5 underdog.

NBA Championship Odds

We’re looking at a Boston Celtics v Dallas Mavericks NBA Finals based on the championship odds.

The Mavericks are in the box seat with a 2-0 lead over the Timberwolves. Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers weren’t able to build on the close contest from Game 1, now 3-0 down to the Celtics.

Boston has been the favourite all season and has shortened further to $1.40 this week. They’ll be favourites heading into the NBA Finals regardless of who they play.

TOP 4 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS

TEAMCURRENT PRICELAST WEEK’S PRICE
Boston Celtics$1.40$1.72
Dallas Mavericks$3.60$8.50
Minnesota Timberwolves$12$9.50
Indiana Pacers$501$81
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