PDub’s Hot Takes: changing times

Brunson and the Knicks silenced the doubters and set up a second-round showdown with Miami.

by Paul West

“Changes aren’t permanent…but change is”–Neil Peart

Welcome back to PDub’s Observatory, now renamed PDub’s Hot Takes because, well, you know, that’s the phrase that’s en vogue these days. As usual, I hope you’ll find my takes to be of a reasonable critical standard.

Rain, rain, take your time

Inclement weather is well timed for the Mets, who are slumping, injured, and pressing all at the same time. Atlanta isn’t exactly streaking; but a weekend of rainouts could have the dual effect of giving the Mets a much-needed break and keeping their division rivals from heating up at their expense. A weekend’s breather, especially at home, could help Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, and Starling Marte snap out of their slumps–a likely outcome, as the Mets are a mentally tougher group that the one who underwent a season-long hitting swoon a couple of years ago.

Gallant on notice?

If the New York Rangers‘ season ends with another listless underperformance–especially after taking a 2-0 series lead on the road–it’s hard to imagine Gerard Gallant‘s tenure lasting through the off-season. The Rangers are young, cohesive, talented, and deep, with a generational talent in goal, and their title window should be opening. Hopefully the front office doesn’t spin the dial all the way and bring in a spirit-crushing, ‘old school’ troglodyte (think John Tortorella) in the name of righting the ship; this team needs energy, morale, and commitment to protecting the puck and crease, not public shaming and being ground down.

How are they going to avoid such an ignominious fate? Two things: forechecking, and a commitment to shooting the puck. Otherwise, they’ll have to follow a familiar (and somewhat tired): script somehow keep the game scoreless or near-scoreless while Igor Shesterkin pulls off the supernatural, and take a late lead on a single player’s game-changing effort. They already know that this formula will only take them so far (Henrik Lundqvist can attest to the same), but if they can somehow rediscover their three-dimensional selves, they’re a legitimate threat to beat anyone. If not, it could be a long off-season.

The Sacramento Kings have arrived.

NBA parity is upon us

The NBA has reached a state of parity, and it’s a wonderful thrill. It’s not that the league’s top echelon has fallen, but that its middle has risen–as evidenced by the epic, Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla duels we’ve seen from Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors. It’s only fitting that this series is going to a seventh game; they’ve been stunning exhibitions of emotion, shot making, and grace under pressure. However it ends, one thing is for sure: the Sacramento Kings have arrived; and built around the core of Domantas Sabonis and DeAaron Fox, with an elite offense and an improving defense, they’ll be a threat for years. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets have gone from perennial also-ran to among the remaining favorites to win it all. Nikola Jokic has help: a healthy Jamal Murray, an emergent Michael Porter Jr., a resurgent Aaron Gordon, and a deep and talented supporting cast. Last but not least: don’t look now, but the New York Knicks are in the second round. Jalen Brunson, who carried the Dallas Mavericks in Luka Doncic‘s absence last season, has been a finishing piece on a team that seemed like it might never break through. The Knicks are hot now, with balance and the power of belief, and with the top seeds dropping like flies, a changing of the guard in the NBA might be afoot. We’ll see what happens.


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