Big Ben: Four Nights in the Garden: Knicks Dominate, Rangers Choke, Aaron Rodgers Saga Ends

NEW YORK, NY It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… The Rangers and Knicks had playoff games in Madison Square Garden on four consecutive nights for the first time since… I don’t know man, but it’s been a while. It went really well for one team but not so well for the other. And the Jets and Packers game of chicken over Aaron Rodgers finally ends with the Packers getting a decent haul. Let’s dig in.

KNICKS

Friday’s game started out u.g.l.y. with both teams struggling from the start. But it was the much maligned RJ Barrett who kickstarted the Knicks until Brunson and company got it rolling. The next thing you know Derrick Rose is in the game and the Cavs were struggling to get to 80.

On Sunday, the Knicks got huge performances from Brunson, Josh Hart and RJ Barrett again. When the Cavs stormed back in the third, those three hit the big shots in the fourth to seal the win. Obi Tobbin, playing key minutes in place of the ineffective Julius Randle, chipped in with some big plays as well.

The Knicks have a 3-1 lead and can close it out Wednesday in Cleveland. They’re playing well but the Cavs are also missing a ton of open looks.

It would be nice to get it done quickly so they can get Grimes healthy. They’re sure to need him to play D against Jimmy Butler (what?) if the Heat can close out the Bucks with one more win. Immanuel Quickley needs to get it rolling, he’s been mostly invisible.

RANGERS

It seemed like a panic move when the Devils made the goalie switch to Akira Schmid but the youngster has turned the tide of the series. It has helped that the Devils have recommitted to playing defense in front of him and decided that leaving Kreider alone in front on the power play was not the best strategy.

The Devils eked out an OT win on Saturday and another 3-1 squeaker with an empty netter on Monday. The Rangers offense is sputtering and the power play has not been effective. With the Devs focusing on Kreider you’d think something else would pop open. The Rangers had better find it or it could be a quick exit.

Ben Whitney

Apoplectic Rangers’ fans have gone from thinking sweep to full blame and panic mode. They’re resorted to booing Jack Hughes every time he touches the puck. Artemi Panarin can be shut down in the playoffs by good teams. The defense has been great, giving up a goal and a half a game should really be enough. On the bright side, the Rangers played well last season will their backs against the wall against the Penguins and Hurricanes, so all is not yet lost.

JETS

The Aaron Rodgers situation had to be solved before the draft. It seemed like the Jets had all the leverage and wouldn’t have to give up a first round pick, but they likely did, in 2024, as long as Rodgers plays 65% of the snaps. There’s some window dressing, but basically they gave up a second rounder this year and one next year that will probably turn into a first. I’d say the Packers did well, considering they had one buyer.

The Jets QB play has been so bad for so long that fans pine for the days of Ryan Fitzmagic, who never even took them to the playoffs. It’s rough I tell ya. Rodgers had a sub par season last year but it would have been more than enough for the Jets to sail into the playoffs had they had him. Heck it would’ve been one of the best statistical seasons for a Jets’ QB ever.

It will be fun to see how it works out. It sure seems unlikely that the old man will get through the triumvirate of Mahomes, Burrow, and Allen, but you never know. The Jets have talent. If they can patch up the o-line and add a few pieces in the draft, they could be a very good team.

I can guarantee you that it will be more fun than watching Zach Wilson throw the ball into the ground 10 yards in front of his receiver, and not take any blame for a loss when the offense puts up 6 points.

Hasta la vista, baby. Tomorrow Angry Ward will be back.

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About Ben Whitney 402 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.