NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, Knicks, Rangers

BEN WHITNEY, Mark Messier, John Starks, Meet-The-Matts, Jalen Brunson, Patrick Kane, Julius Randle, Knicks, Rangers, NBA, NHL, Google Alerts, #GoogleAlerts
John Starks of NY Knicks can't take what Stan Fischler said about Mark Messier and the NY Rangers!

BROADWAY, NYC – April is an underrated sports month. We’ve got baseball picking up steam, the NFL draft, the Masters, and the start of the NHL and NBA Playoffs. I’m going to focus on the Knicks and the Rangers gearing up for a playoff run. The Knicks lost Randle, but got OG back and should still be a tough out. The Rangers are rolling and looking to cast aside recent playoff shortfalls to make a real push for Lord Stanley’s Cup. All eyes will be on the MSG denizens to see if they can make some noise this time around.

Knicks Lose a Julius, Gain an OG

It’s a shame we’ll never see what the fully healthy Knicks could have done in the playoffs. The writing was on the wall for Julius Randle when he couldn’t seem to progress past the “controlled contact” phase of his rehab. Now that he’s shut down for the season, they won’t be able to get the 14-2 January band (plus Bogdanovich) back together. With OG (assuming he passes on his option), Achiuwa, Hartenstein, and Burks set to be free agents this offseason, we may never know what could have been…

On the bright side, OG is back and he may be more important than Randle. They could have used Julius to take pressure off Brunson when the double teams come, but OG’s dominance on the defensive end keeps the Knicks on the dangerous side. They’ll need to have more balanced scoring behind Brunson but they’re deep. I don’t know if they have a great chance against Boston without Julius, but they still should be highly competitive against anyone else in the East.

The Knicks are coming in at +6000 (60 to 1) to win it all on a popular gambling site. It’s a tall task without OG, but that seems high, especially with fading Milwaukee and current play-in teams Sixers and Heat sporting much lower odds.

Rangers Rolling

On the ice, the Rangers just tied their all-time record with 53 wins in a season with four games to go. The Blueshirts have the best record in the league but are not getting that level of respect in Vegas. They have the 5th best championship odds behind Carolina, Florida, Colorado, and Edmonton, tied with Dallas at +900 (9 to 1).

The Rangers are a strong team but the fear is that they’re too dependent on goaltending and special teams. And if the Panarin line is shut down come playoff time as in previous years, the scoring is not balanced enough. These are legitimate concerns but this is a resilient squad and I expect Panarin to dominate this time around. With 115 points, Panarin has already shattered his previous career high of 96. He looks like a man on a mission. With Igor and a ferocious power play, they’ve got a shot.

April 20

Ben Whitney

That’s the day the NHL and NBA playoffs start. I am fired up. Let’s freakin’ go.

Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward and his five favorite non-sports things to do in early spring. Spoiler alert, the Brooklyn Cherry Blossoms are on the list.

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About Ben Whitney 407 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.