Josh Hart draws comparisons to Westbrook after Knicks’ Game 1 win

All-Star point guard Jalen Brunson wasn’t the hero in the New York Knicks’ Game 1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. They were Josh Hart, Miles McBride and the rest of the supporting cast.

Brunson shot just 8-of-26 from the field for 22 points and turned the ball over five times in the postseason opener.

Fortunately, his former Villanova teammate prevailed, with Hart hitting 3 of his 4 3-pointers in the final 6 minutes to put the Knicks ahead of the 76ers.

He finished with 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal in 42 minutes played. Hart played an integral role in New York’s 55-33 rebounding advantage over Philadelphia.

So much so that 76ers forward Nicolas Batum compared him to 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook after a team practice on April 21.

Sam DiGiovanni included the comments in his latest story for Clutch Points.

“Batum compared Hart to Russell Westbrook as a non-big who dominates on the glass,” DiGiovanni wrote on April 21 . “He didn’t offer many answers when asked why he’s so difficult to contain. “If you have a secret, tell me, please,” he said.

Westbrook is one of the best, if not the best, rebounders at 6-foot-4 or shorter. He has a career average of 7.1 per game.

Hart, also 6-foot-4, finished the 2023-2024 season averaging a career-high 8.3 rebounds.

He averaged 14.3 against the 76ers in four regular season games, and that translated into Game 1, when he finished with 13.

It may not be star Russell Westbrook, but Josh Hart’s presence on the glass is a major factor in this series. And it wasn’t just Nicolas Batum who noticed.