Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks formally are headed again to the playoffs for the second time in three years following final yr’s step-back marketing campaign.

They received their second consecutive recreation with injured All-Star ahead Julius Randle out of the lineup on Sunday evening, dispatching the injury-riddled Wizards, 118-109, on the Backyard to clinch no worse than the No. 6 postseason seed within the Japanese Convention.

Jalen Brunson adopted up his career-best 48-point effort in Friday’s win in Cleveland with 27 factors and eight assists, whereas Quentin Grimes drained six 3-pointers and in addition completed with 27 factors because the Knicks (46-33) received their fourth straight recreation general to keep away from any potential of showing within the 7-10 play-in event.

Additionally they inched ever-closer to securing a 4-5 matchup within the first spherical towards Donovan Mitchell and the Cavaliers, sustaining a 2 ½-game lead over the Nets with three to play.

Knicks guard Jalen Brunson seems for a gap as Washington Wizards ahead Corey Kispert defends.
Noah Ok. Murray-NY Publish

“You go step-by-step,” Thibodeau mentioned earlier than the sport. “There’s steps that you simply’re taking all through the course of the season, whether or not or not it’s let’s set up dwelling court docket, let’s have a successful file at dwelling, let’s have a successful file on the highway. If we deal with every step, then these issues are going to deal with themselves. And that’s what we’ve got to grasp. If we begin skipping over issues that’s normally whenever you slip.

“So if successful tonight takes care of that, clearly we’re happy with that. However simply hold transferring ahead. Don’t cease there, run by the whole season. That’s from begin to end. Don’t change the strategy.”

With Randle on the bench carrying a boot to guard his sprained left ankle, and RJ Barrett additionally sidelined with a non-COVID sickness, the Knicks’ improved depth shone by once more, with fill-in starters Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin netting 22 and a season-high 21 factors, respectively.

Quentin Grimes drives to the basket during the game against the Washington Wizards.
Quentin Grimes drives to the basket in the course of the recreation towards the Washington Wizards.
NBAE through Getty Pictures

Corey Kispert scored 29 factors to guide the depleted Wizards, who have been with out 4 starters, together with three-time All-Star guard Bradley Beal and former Knicks ahead Kristaps Porzingis.

Requested additionally about avoiding the 7-10 play-in state of affairs, Thibodeau added: “I believe you cope with precisely what’s in entrance of you. I believe general the thought of the play-in has been superb for the league. There’s been nice curiosity in each recreation nearly, and groups are jockeying whether or not you’re making an attempt to keep away from the play-in and get into the playoffs or making an attempt to get right into a play-in. I believe it’s labored nicely … I believe there’s extra constructive to it than adverse. And for us simply hold concentrating and don’t get misplaced. … Simply lock into Washington, after which we go from there.”

Grimes knocked down an early 3-pointer and fed Toppin for an alley-oop dunk within the opening minutes, however Brunson missed his first three photographs after netting 21 of his career-high 48 within the first quarter Friday evening in Cleveland.

Immanuel Quickley
Immanuel Quickley
NBAE through Getty Pictures

However Brunson’s first bucket on a baseline drive evened the rating, and his coast-to-coast bucket off a Washington turnover put them forward a number of possessions later because the Knicks led 34-31 by one.

Fashionable former Knicks large man Taj Gibson (14 factors) sank consecutive long-range buckets early within the second because the Wizards retook the lead.

Further treys by Kispert and Deni Avdija prolonged the Knicks’ deficit to 10.

A conventional three-point play by Brunson and a feed from Josh Hart to Mitchell Robinson (eight factors, 11 rebounds) for a flush sparked a 10-2 surge to drag the Knicks again inside two. However Kispert rattled dwelling his third triple, giving him 20 factors within the half because the Wizards led 61-53 at intermission.

The Knicks recaptured the lead on Quickley’s transition dunk and Brunson’s two free throws simply previous the halfway level of the third, earlier than Grimes’ third 3-pointer of the sport and Brunson’s weaving bucket made it a 74-69 recreation en path to a seven-point benefit getting into the ultimate interval.

Consecutive buckets from past the arc by Toppin and Quickley prolonged the Knicks’ result in 11 early within the fourth, and Grimes’ sixth 3-pointer of the evening made it a 110-94 recreation with 4:01 remaining.