Tom Thibodeau on Jalen Brunson after Knicks’ Game 5 win: ‘I’ve never seen anyone work the way he does’

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After Jalen Brunson’s strong performance against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau directed plenty of praise toward his star guard.

Brunson and backcourt mate Quentin Grimes played all 48 minutes of the Knicks’ 112-103 win over the Heat. Brunson was especially prolific during his time on the court, finishing with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

That type of performance was a key reason why the Knicks made a huge investment in Brunson during the past offseason. Brunson inked a four-year deal worth $104 million after playing his first four NBA seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.

While Brunson’s lucrative deal served as a major reason for his decision to join the Knicks, family ties likely also factored into the equation. That’s because his father Rick is also in his first season with the Knicks as one of Thibodeau’s assistant coaches.

The hiring of the elder Brunson prior to the younger Brunson’s signing was seen as an effort that enhanced the Knicks’ chances of acquiring the guard. It’s important to note that the elder Brunson had previously served as Thibodeau’s assistant in stints with the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.

During the 2022-23 regular season, the younger Brunson averaged 24.0 points, 6.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. Thus far in the postseason, he’s performed even better, including three performances of at least 30 points against the Heat.

On Wednesday night, the younger Brunson was coming off a strong performance in Game 4 in which he put together a double-double. In that game, which the Heat won 109-101, he scored 32 points and dished out 11 assists.

As outstanding as the younger Brunson’s performance was on Wednesday, it came close to going for naught when the Heat put together a furious fourth-quarter comeback bid. Trailing 73-54 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter, the Heat managed to get within two at 103-101 with 2:37 remaining in the contest.

Ready to move on from that loss, the Heat remain in a position to advance in the postseason by defeating the Knicks one more time. The Heat’s next opportunity will take place in Game 6 on Friday night at Kaseya Center.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.