Instantly following the gut-punch defeat in Memphis — or, within the case of Jalen Brunson, an elbow to the rib cage — the purpose guard wasn’t a lot within the sentimental angle. Certain, it’s a lifelong dream to play at Madison Sq. Backyard for the Knicks, the favourite staff of Brunson’s youth with Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston as his heroes.
However the house opener Friday is just as pleasing because the consequence.
“It’s going to be a enjoyable evening. However we’d like a win,” Brunson mentioned Wednesday after the Knicks fell to Grizzlies in OT, 115-112. “That’s all I care about.”
There aren’t any must-win NBA video games in October except they’re within the pandemic-inspired bubble of 2020. However there are ranges of opponents the Knicks should beat persistently to succeed in the playoffs.
Friday’s guests to MSG, the Pistons (1-0), match into that class. They’re among the many NBA’s youngest with 4 starters 23 years previous or underneath, together with 2021 first total choose Cade Cunningham and 2022 fifth choose Jaden Ivey.
The Pistons have been additionally instrumental in Brunson becoming a member of the Knicks. To clear the cap area for the Brunson’s $104 million deal, the Knicks unloaded the contracts of Kemba Walker, Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel to Detroit in draft-day trades.
Solely a type of former Knicks — Noel — is in rivalry to play for the Pistons on the Backyard on Friday. Walker, who was waived by Detroit and stays a free agent, could by no means play once more. Burks is injured and Noel is recovering.
Their worth is expiring contracts.
Brunson, nevertheless, is the important thing piece to wherever the Knicks land this season. His influence was evident in opposition to the Grizzlies on Wednesday, when the Knicks floundered whereas he sat with foul bother and relied on his playmaking for the second-half comeback.
By the tip night, Brunson had assisted on the game-tying 3-pointer in regulation, drew the following game-saving cost in regulation and took a painful shot to his ribs within the last seconds of OT.
However the Knicks misplaced. And Brunson, whose profession as a Knick at MSG begins Friday, solely cared about that consequence.
“I like the best way we fought again [against the Grizzlies],” he mentioned. “We made some performs down the stretch — didn’t make sufficient. … That was an opportunity for us. We’re going to study from it and get higher from it.”