The Portland Trail Blazers may not be participating in this year’s NBA Playoffs, but their impact can still be felt as the second round draws to a close.
Just before the trade deadline, the Blazers shipped Josh Hart to the New York Knicks in exchange for Cam Reddish and a first-round pick, a deal that has re-directed the course of the playoffs, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger.
Filling a massive gap in the Knicks’ rotation after Cam Reddish struggled and Evan Fournier was exiled to Elba (Just kidding! He still comes to the games, I swear!), Hart has compiled stats as a Knick that are eye-popping: a 17.1 PER, 70.3 percent true shooting, a 12.9 percent rebound rate despite standing just 6-5 and plus defense at either wing spot.
Perhaps most notable, a case of the yips that developed in Portland seemed to mysteriously resolve itself as soon as he got to New York. Hart made 30.4 percent of his triples as a Blazer and was repeatedly passing up open ones; as a Knick, he made 51.9 percent in the regular season and 5 of 11 in their first-round upset of Cleveland, a series in which Hart had three double-figure scoring games.
Hart was a key piece in New York’s Game 2 win against the Heat, scoring 14 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out nine assists, one shy of a triple-double. His ankle injury that he suffered at the end of the first round has hampered him a bit, but the Knicks wouldn’t have made it this far without his contributions.
Hart and the Knicks look to fight off elimination tonight against the Heat in Game 6. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on ESPN.