NBA Playoffs: Knicks Take Game 1, Minnesota Dominates Denver 106-80

The New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 121-117 on Monday night at Madison Square Gardens in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. 

Jalen Brunson became the fourth player in NBA history with four straight 40-point games in the postseason, dropping 43 points on 14-26 shooting. He joined an elite list of Jerry West, who had six consecutive 40-point games in the postseason, and Michael Jordan and Bernard King who both had four.

New York Knicks' Jalen Brunson
Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Brunson went ballistic in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 and rallying the Knicks after they trailed by nine early on in the period. Donte DiVincenzo hit a clutch 3-pointer with 39 seconds remaining in the game to give his team the edge. DiVincenzo had 25 in total which included 5 threes.

Josh Hart also had a big game, finishing with a career-high 24 points while adding 13 rebounds and eight assists. All Knicks starters ended in double figures with the bench only producing three points.

The Pacers hung in there most of the game and even had a lead going into the final 6 minutes. Miles Turner led the team in scoring with 23 points and Pascal Siakam had a solid all-round game with 19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. All Star point guard Tyrsese Haliburton wasn’t at his best, only managing 6 points to go with his 8 assists. It was reported that Haliburton was suffering from back spasms before the game.

Arguably the biggest bright spot for the Pacers was T J McConnell who scored 18 off the bench on 9-16 from the field. Indiana’s bench outscored New York’s 46-3, which could be a problem from the Knicks going forward in the series.

The No. 2-seeded Knicks will host Game 2 on Wednesday. Although Indiana lost they will take heart in the fact they led most of the game and required a huge game from all the Knicks starters to be beaten. It should also be taken into consideration that Hart played all 48 minutes, DiVincenzo 44 and Brunson 43, which might not be sustainable as the series wears on.

Timberwolves Destroy Nuggets 106-80 in Game 2

The Minnesota Timberwolves took firm control of their Western Conference semifinals series against the Denver Nuggets with a 106-80 Game 2 win in the mile-high city. The Timberwolves now lead the 7 game series 2-0 and have the chance to close out the Nuggets with two home wins.

Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns led the way for the Wolves, each scoring 27 points on a combined 21-32 from the floor. Minnesota are yet to drop a game this playoffs after sweeping the Phoenix Suns in their first-round matchup.

Starting center Rudy Gobert was back at home in Minneapolis attending the birth of his son on Sunday and was replaced in the lineup by Kyle Anderson. Even without Gobert’s defensive presence the Wolves were able to restrict the Nuggets to just 80 points and 34.9% shooting.

Aaron Gordon led scoring for Denver with 20 points, while Nikola Jokic had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Jamal Murray had one of the worst playoff performances of his career, managing only 8 points on 3-of-18 shooting.

The game started off relatively even with both teams feeling each other out but the Timberwolves pounced on the opportunity to take control later in the first quarter. They opened up a gap of 8 points by the end of the quarter and built the lead to 26 by halftime.

While Denever certainly had the capabilities to comeback, the game seemed out of reach as Minnesota’s defense relentlessly stayed on Jokic and co. Murray threw a heat pack onto the court in frustration as Towns was about to score on a layup in the second quarter. He will likely face punishment from the league for the outburst.

The Nuggets will now face the uphill task of trying to even the series out on the road. The Timberwolves on the other hand will want to keep the pressure on a close out a dangerous Nuggets team while they have them down.

Games 3 and 4 will be on Friday night and Sunday in Minneapolis.