These next four games will be a progress report and a character check for the Knicks‘ players and a referendum by the players on Coach Thibodeau’s ability to prepare them to play each night. Coaching counts, even in the star-driven NBA. Steve Clifford did not out-coach Tom Thibodeau in the Knicks’ loss to the Magic.
However, a well-coached team like the injury-depleted Magic almost always comes ready to play. Obviously, the Knicks players saw the Orlando game as a breather. Orlando started the season 6 & 2 before the Markelle Fultz injury and had lost 16 of 20 since.
Add to this the absence of their near all-star PF, Aaron Gordon, who was having an excellent season, and then the ease with which the Knicks took an early lead. Now you have the formula for an 18 point loss. On the heels of three wins against teams that seemed to have no real direction, this game, which looked like a fourth win in a row, turned into a disaster. We can simply write off this loss as an off night, or we can see it as a wake-up call for players who were not prepared to go to war with an inferior opponent. To quote Annette Bening’s character Elise Kraft in the movie, The Siege, “In this game, the most committed wins.”
The team then faced the Minnesota Timberwolves, and while they got the win, the Knicks almost blew the game late. The team is now 1 game below .500. Let’s take a look at some of their upcoming opponents.