Contrary to what some say, Jalen Brunson did perform well in the second round of the 2023 playoffs against the Heat. The New York Knicks point guard averaged 31 points, 6.3 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in six games, but what matters most to the guard is that his team came up short.
After the series, Erik Spoelstra praised Brunson and said he was confused about how the point guard wasn't named an All-Star and didn't make an All-NBA team. To have that effect on one of the best coaches in the history of the league says a lot.
The Eastern Conference standings are tight, so you never know, maybe the Knicks will get another run at the Heat in the 2024 postseason. It'd be great for ratings, at the very least. The rivalry was renewed in 2023, which is why the NBA scheduled Knicks-Heat as one of the nationally televised games during Rivals Week.
In a sit-down interview with ESPN's Michael Wilbon, Brunson was asked if he's "properly" learned how to hate Miami yet, to which the point guard said with a laugh, "Definitely." Brunson said he has "a lot of respect" for the Heat organization but that losing the series last year "didn't sit well."
Jalen Brunson says he's "definitely" learned how to hate the Heat since joining Knicks
Losing to Miami in the postseason left a sour taste in the mouths of every Knicks player (and fan). It's never easy when a season ends, especially on that note.
It made New York's 21-point comeback to beat Miami by two, 100-98, on Nov. 24 in the In-Season Tournament that much sweeter.
As Brunson said, the Knicks are taking things one step at a time rather than looking ahead to the playoffs. There are still 37 games left to be played in the regular season, including Saturday's afternoon matchup at MSG.
No. 4 New York sits four games ahead of No. 7 Miami in the standings, two games behind Philadelphia for third. The Heat did acquire Terry Rozier earlier this week, though, and he was in the midst of an excellent season for a lowly Hornets squad. Rozier's production won't be as high with Miami, but he's another threat New York will have to worry about.
Maybe Rozier's already learned to hate the Knicks, too. If not, a welcoming environment full of New Yorkers should do the trick!