Big Ben: Playoff Special… Rangers and Knicks Ready to Rock the Garden

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MSG, NYC – It’s an exciting time for New York sports with the Rangers and Knicks in the playoffs, the approaching NFL draft for the up-trending Giants and Jets, and solid but unspectacular 10-6 starts for the Mets and Yankees. I feel like Junoir Blaber at an oversized hat sale – there are a lot of ways to go. Let’s focus on the Rangers and Knicks in the playoffs. Get some.

Knickerbockers

The Knicks won Game 1 despite mediocre performances from Barrett, Quickley, Grimes and others. They were the lowest scoring team of the eight Game 1 winners. They were more fun to watch when Randle was out of the lineup and they’re going to need contributions for more than just Brunson, Randle and Hart if they want to keep playing.

Julius Randle had some big shots early on, coming back from injury. He also had some brutal turnovers early, but came through with the game-sealing offensive rebound. The team is more stagnant with him in the lineup and they need to grind out wins. Guys like Grimes, Toppin, and Quickley are much less involved. It’s a bit reminiscent of the ball-stopping play of Carmelo Anthony. For long stretches only Brunson and Randle are taking shots, interrupted only by the occasional Barrett brick.

It’s a small sample size, but in the five games without Randle the Knicks averaged 125 points, compared to 116 for the season. In order to advance, the Knicks are going to need to embrace the run and gun style with their young players at least some of the time.

If they can get past the Cavs, they play the winner of the Heat/Bucks. And that door to the Conference finals might have nudged open a bit on Sunday with the injury to Giannis.

Rangers

The Rangers are going to have their hands full with the upstart Devils. They’re young and fast and have a budding superstar in Jack Hughes. This kid jumps off the screen with his high-speed skills.

It would be a huge letdown if the Rangers didn’t make it out of the first round after last year’s trip to the Conference finals, especially with this year’s big ticket additions of Kane and Tarasenko. But that is not an unlikely scenario. The Devils won four of the six games this season and two went to OT. Both of the Rangers’ wins were one-goal squeakers.

The Rangers have a clear advantage in net but the Devils have a solid mix of youngsters Hughes, Mercer and Hischier. They have key veterans too,  in Meier, Palat, and Hamilton. This one is a coin flip. Matteau, where you at?

Ben Whitney

That’s it for me. The Garden is gonna be rocking on this weekend with the Knicks’ Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday and the Rangers on Saturday in Game 3. Let’s go.

Let me know if you think the Knicks and Rangers will advance. And come back tomorrow for Angry Ward.

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About Ben Whitney 406 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.