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Lockdown Defender ‘Out’ for Game 5 vs. Pacers

Tom Thibodeau gives unfortunate update on OG Anunoby

OG Anunoby was downgraded to “Out” for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden against the Pacers. Anunoby was injured midway through Game 2 at home and sat out both of their losses in Indiana. Fans were hopeful of his return to Game 5, and there were rumors that Anunoby would be playing the critical match. Now, however, Anunoby is certainly out for Game 5, and reports are suggesting that the hamstring could take weeks to recover from.

OG Anunoby Ruled Out for Game 5

Injury Updates

According to Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau, Anunoby hasn’t started running yet and is just doing “pool work” to recover from his strained hamstring in Game 2.

Longtime NBA announcer Mike Breen had this to say when asked about it on “The Rich Eisen Show”.

“I don’t think it’s close right now,” Breen said. “He hasn’t done any on-court workout. He’s been doing pool work, he’s getting treatment 3-4 times a day, so they’re doing their best to get him in. But I don’t think he’s going to play tomorrow [Game 5], I’d be surprised if he played Friday [Game 6]. Maybe as you get towards the weekend there’s a chance, but right now, from what I’ve heard in the last couple of days, he’s not close.”

The hamstring strain that Anunoby suffered is a mild injury that causes players to sit out at least 5-8 days. Depending on the severity of the injury, the time could be longer. Tyrese Haliburton on the Indiana Pacers was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain earlier this season. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, Haliburton missed almost 2 weeks due to that injury. Even after coming back, Haliburton missed multiple games because of the hamstring.

OG Anunoby’s Impact

Everybody who has watched a Knicks game this playoffs knows the importance of OG Anunoby. Since acquiring him, the Knicks have gone 26-5 when he’s played, and 13-16 when he sat. Opponents score just 101.8 points/100 possessions when he’s on the court, and they have shot just 48.5% from the field. Anunoby is the backbone of the Knicks’ defense, and his wingspan combined with his athleticism allows him to guard all positions. He guarded Joel Embiid in Round 1 against the Sixers, and split time covering Pascal Siakam and Haliburton in this round.

However, his most underrated impact is his offense. Anunoby flies around the court, opening up the offense when the play is about to fall apart. He has been a knockdown shooter in the playoffs, shooting 39% from 3. OG Anunoby has stepped up and delivered when needed. In Game 2 against the Pacers when Brunson sat down, Anunoby had 28 points in 28 minutes.  Anunoby doesn’t need the ball in his hands and is happy shooting off a pass. He can get to the rim with his size, and this opens up the offense when they play 3-guard lineups.

Injuries Piling Up

Anunoby’s other impact in these playoffs was being a reliable forward in key minutes. Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Bojan Bogdanović were all key players for the Knicks before their season ended due to injuries. Anunoby’s injury along with Jalen Brunson’s nagging foot and Isaiah Hartenstein’s shoulder injury means that Thibs almost certainly will give guys like Alec Burks and Jericho Sims more minutes. The Knicks now have to rely on relative unknowns in the playoffs to perform. The Knicks must-win Game 5 at the Garden. To do so, they must rediscover the form that led them to victory in Game 2 and come out looking fresh.

Game 5 at the Garden will be a critical juncture. Can this Knicks team rise to the occasion and beat the Pacers while the whole world decries they are in trouble? Or will the injuries prove to be too much for them?


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