Jalen Brunson didn’t miss this important one.
After sitting the previous two contests with what the Knicks labeled a “sprained right hand,” the point guard started Wednesday versus the Heat while sporting a brace.
Luckily for Brunson, he shoots lefty and Tom Thibodeau claimed he didn’t notice any hindrance.
“He’s looked fine when he’s practiced,” the coach said. “Doesn’t look any different.”
Thibodeau offered no further insights into whether Brunson underwent tests before the diagnosis, why he missed the previous game despite going through practice a day earlier, or how long the pain might affect one the Knicks’ most important players.
Per usual, Thibodeau produced canned answers about leaning on the medical staff.
“Go through practice,” Thibodeau said. “Go through the rehab part of it and do everything you need to do. And then everyone do their job. That’s the way I approach that. Our doctors, our trainers. Obviously Jalen has say in that as well. And then make a good decision. And that’s what we felt was best for him and our team [to sit Monday’s victory over the Rockets]. Now take that couple days later, now let’s see where we are. So if everything is good, he’ll be out there.”
Left unsaid by Thibodeau is that the Rockets are miserable — the Knicks beat them by 22 points — and the Heat was a matchup with major playoff implications.
A victory Wednesday would’ve essentially assured the Knicks a top-6 finish and a guaranteed playoff spot.
Brunson had missed seven of the previous 11 games with either the sprained hand or a sore foot. The Knicks went 4-3 in those contests while Immanuel Quickley stuffed the box score.
Thibodeau didn’t believe Quickley, who came off the bench Wednesday, would need to adjust much after scoring a career-high 40 points Monday as the starter.
“Quick has played really well coming off the bench,” the coach said. “He’s played really well when he’s filled in. So just get in there and get it done.”
RILEY’S LESSONS STILL RESONATE
The “durability chart” brought to the Knicks in the 90s by Pat Riley used to hang front-and-center at Madison Square Garden for the team to see.
Players were given a point for attending a game, a point for practice and a point for shootaround. If one was missed, it went back to zero.
On Wednesday, Thibodeau indicated the chart — which was inherited by Jeff Van Gundy (when Thibodeau was an assistant) — may not be as present but its principles remain important.
“It’s not probably as visible as it once was,” Thibodeau said. “And here’s the thing, style of play changes over time. You can play fast, you can play slow, but what wins remains the same — hard work, discipline, togetherness, unselfishness, sacrifice, all those things, dependability, thinking on your feet, and those are things that Pat stands for. And I think that dependability thing, you have to be able to count on each other. Are you going to be there every day? Are you gonna be there every game? And that’s meaningful, I think, particularly if you’re a young team, to improve, you have to work. I don’t think anything great was ever achieved without great effort. I’ve been around a long time. I look at all this stuff going on. So that’s just what I see.”