Inside The Knicks Defense: How Tom Thibodeau’s team has dominated

NY Knicks (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
NY Knicks (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Taj Gibson, Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Rich Schultz/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

Thibodeau has The Knicks playing with high intensity

Tom Thibodeau’s defense is draining for not just his opponents but for his own players as well. You need to play fast both physically and mentally. Any mental lapse will cause the whole ship to sink.

It’s a defense that has required the bigs like Noel, Robinson, and Gibson to anchor the paint while also being able to play the passing lanes and wreak havoc on the perimeter if nessecary. Those kinds of responsibilites really showed up in Mitchell Robinson’s development as a defender prior to his injury.

Two of the Knicks’ main perimeter defenders, RJ Barrett and Reggie Bullock have all been able to showcase their strength on defense. Barrett and Bullock are an overwhelming duo who take a lot of contact, but are also nimble enough to keep up with guards so long as they stay true to their technique.

It’s been apparent with RJ Barrett, who struggled with his defense in his rookie season. Barrett isn’t the speediest player, but he’s one of the strongest. Now, Barrett looks utilizes his physical tools. He uses his length to disrupt long range shots, and dares people to out-muscle him getting to the rim.

Even the Knicks guards have been excellent contributors. Among Elfrid Payton, Immanuel Quickley and Derrick Rose, there isn’t a single one who has historically graded out as a positive defender. Yet, they’ve all bought into the team-first mentality and stick to their responsibilities.

This defense will never stop being physical. The constant movement and switching can change your mindset – It makes you naturally more active and ready to dive for loose balls. The Knicks feel like they can steal a game from anyone so long as they set the tone.

It’s a drastic change from the mentality previous recent Knicks teams. Tom Thibodeau has these guys charged up and motivated every single night. The positive culture change is a sign of great things to come, and it’s thrilling to think about what this team can become with a full offseason under Thibodeau and the rest of the coaching staff.

Next. RJ Barrett is The Knicks' most clutch player. dark