The Knicks’ playoff shot was valuable experience

Someone asked Josh Hart last night what a great stretch the Knicks have been through since being acquired from the Blazers. The Knicks are 11-3 since Hart’s arrival from Portland, including eight in his first eight touchdowns. If you’ve watched the Knicks all season this is clearly no accident.

“Man, that’s cool,” said Hart. “I think this team was going upwards when I got here, and I was able to kind of fit in and continue to help this team grow. I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Hart did a little bit of everything in his 30 minutes off the bench. He averaged 11.1 points. Pulls 7.1 rebounds per. He has 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals and 58.9 percent kicking (55.9 from 3-point range). His energy is matched only by his basketball IQ. He fit seamlessly into the team as when John Lennon asked Paul McCartney and George Harrison to join the Quarrymen.

“It feels great that we can win, and I’m in a new position now where I sit here and really play for something,” said Hart. “I’ve never really been in that position before in my career. So that just makes me hungrier, and the rest of the guys are in the locker room.”

this is funy. You hear the wonder in Hart’s voice and think to yourself: Man, that sure sounds like someone who didn’t even make the NBA playoffs.

And then you can take a quick look at his resume at and remember there’s a good reason for that: In six seasons as a professional basketball player, he hasn’t made the NBA playoffs. Not a game, not a minute.

Jokes guard Josh Hart reacts after a foul call
Like many of his Knicks teammates, Josh Hart is still aching for some playoff experience.

And that, like nothing else, makes him a perfect fit for the Knicks who, of the nine regulars in the rotation, have a precious little experience in the postseason to fall back on.

Jalen Bronson, as with most things on this team, is the outlier: He’s played in 25 postseason games the past two seasons, has a 17.8/4.0/3.0 average, and his performance last year helped fuel the Mavericks’ run to the Western Finals She helped make him a must-have free pickup for the Knicks.

The rest of the top nine?

Knicks guard Jalen Bronson (11) leads Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk
Jalen Bronson has kept the Knicks defense with 25 playoff appearances on his resume in the past two seasons.

Hart, Quentin Grimes, and Mitchell Robinson have never played a playoff game.

Isaiah Hartenstein has played in four games — but only two if you exclude the two games he played with the Clippers last year.

Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Emmanuel Quickly and Obe Tobin each had five matches, losing four of them.

That’s it. Eight players, 24 postseason games and ninth with 25 – and if you remember how the Hawks’ streak went two years ago, it goes without saying that this team experience, while limited, was also somewhat frustrating.

Yes. Now, your match experience can be as essential or as non-essential as you want it to be. It doesn’t take much to change the narrative – one excellent series will do, especially for this group. It’s the same dilemma you always face in job interviews early in your career.

Boss: We don’t hire anyone without experience.

Knicks guard Emmanuel Kwekley, right, dribbling in front of Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic
Getting Emmanuel Kwikley a taste of the postseason could pay off for the Knicks’ future.

You: How do I get experience?

Boss: Go get some, then we’ll talk again.

The thread that connects the best Knicks players is the desire to have that experience, to accumulate playoff representatives, and to make it where making the playoffs is a prediction rather than a highlight of their career.

The best players add approximately two full seasons to their careers with all playoff appearances; LeBron James played 266 of them — over three seasons. Steve Curry has played 136. Even Giannis Antetokounmpo, still a baby soon at 28, has played in 77 of them.

All of this makes it imperative that the Knicks properly run the last 11 games of the schedule. They are ahead of the net percentage points and three games ahead of the Heat for fifth place. They are two games behind the Cavs for fourth place. Staying in that 4-5 range will allow for a reasonable chance of actually winning a series and, just as importantly, building the Knicks’ collegiate postseason experience. Will you achieve seven wins? eight?

Whatever the number, that’s the task facing the Knicks. They are almost all playoff starters. No matter where the season ends, they should look at this as an opportunity to take a good look at the playoffs, all of them, and make it a point to come back again. and again. and again.

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