2. Pressing questions for Tom Thibodeau: How does he adapt?
This might be the most pertinent and most annoying question about Thibodeau at the same time. Every coach who has been in the league longer than a few seasons needs to learn how to adapt to remain competitive. In fact, this is true of any profession. The people who identify new trends, who continue to be curious and learn in order to master their craft, those are the types who excel.
Thibodeau is a workhorse. A team coached by the New Britain native is always going to be prepared. Whether that means they are prepared with the right schemes to face modern NBA offenses seems to be the question of the hour.
Thibodeau found great success utilizing an “Ice” defensive approach against the pick-and-roll in his earlier coaching years. The basic idea is to use two, instead of three, defenders to blow up side pick-and-rolls. As the league has evolved with more shooting big men, it has made it more difficult to corral the ball-handler when the screener is able to punish his man tracking the ball with a perimeter shot.
However, this is an example of a defensive coverage that receives a lot of attention because … Thibodeau was revolutionary in using it. He suffers from his own invention. If anything, it should tell fans that he has the defensive mind to come up with new techniques to stop what has become a league that relies much more on high pick-and-rolls than side action, which Ice was created to defend.
Still, there are things beyond Xs and Os that offer valid concern. Can Thibs learn how to deal with the newest generation of young stars? Can he manage playing time in the era of load management?
We know what Thibs has done in previous stops. How will he adapt and define his time in New York?