After winning three in a row, the Knicks have since looked like the Knicks of the past. They have suddenly dropped the last four of their last five games. I know that it’s early in the season, but there are some things that we need to talk about.
I believe the Knicks are too good of a team to lose their previous games in the way that they did. In wins over the Pistons, Hornets, and Magic, the Knickerbockers played winning basketball. They shared the ball, made good shots, ran up and down the court at a fast pace, and focused on defense. It was a different story in matchups against the Bucks, Cavaliers, Hawks, and Celtics.
Knicks haven’t looked good in their losses
In Milwaukee, New York shot poorly from the free throw line, missing 10 free throws. They also turned the ball over 13 times against the Bucks’ stifling defense. The Knicks had a tough time defending the Bucks as their starting five all scored in double figures.
The Knickerbockers were in control in Cleveland, but in the fourth quarter, they lost it. Throughout the game, it was hard for the Knicks to get out on all the threes the Cavaliers hoisted up. Once again, they shot horribly from the free throw line, this time missing eight of their free shots. New York still should have come out with a win against this very good team. It was theirs to lose and they did just that.
For the second straight game, the Knickerbockers came out on fire against the Hawks. They even held a 23-point lead in the second quarter, but that quickly went away. Dejounte Murray was too much on both ends of the floor, causing the Knicks to collapse in The Garden.
In the third quarter, the home team only scored 10 points, while the visitors put up 32, which ultimately led to boos from fans. Atlanta forced the Knicks to turn the ball over 17 times. They also scored more than double the fast break points New York did. If the Knicks keep playing like this, they might be once again facing a fate of mediocrity.
Change may be needed from both coaches and players
Some things need to change and that might need to go ahead and happen now. First things first, we need to start with the coaching staff. Coach Tom Thibodeau and Co. were winning on the road in Cleveland and at home against Atlanta and couldn’t close the deal. These are the types of games that you need to win in this league. Now, I know the coaches don’t play, but they have the ability to see everything that is happening on the court.
When the Hawks and Cavaliers went on runs, it seemed as if there were no adjustments made during timeouts or even halftime. After every break, the Knicks kept looking worse and worse and could never gain momentum. Thibs needs to do a better job of making in-game changes, instead of just sticking to the script and hoping that things work out. The 2020-21 Coach of the Year might be on the hot seat if his team doesn’t turn it around soon.
Although, in Philadelphia, New York was in a tight one all night and trailed going into the fourth. Thibodeau let the young guys take control as they went on a 29-15 run to close the game out. He made Knicks fans happy by starting Quentin Grimes instead of Evan Fournier as well. Maybe, Thibs is trying new things.
One new thing he can do is utilize all the weapons on his team. This would include involving Miles McBride, Jericho Sims, Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin more. Thibodeau relies heavily on his starting five, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Derrick Rose off the bench. He should consider putting in Sims, McBride, and Toppin more for that second burst of energy. These young guys can get up and down the floor and have proved they can play defense at a high level as well.
This is what the Knicks came in this year wanting to do, so why hasn’t Thibs included them in the game plan? Change can be good and in the game of basketball, nothing stays the same. Maybe someone should tell Thibs this. The starting five doesn’t have to play over 30 minutes every night. Minutes should be based on performance, game by game, and not by the name on the jersey.
As I stated earlier, I know the coaches don’t play, so the players must elevate their game as well. Maybe a players-only meeting is needed. Shooting under 70% from the free throw stripe is just terrible and it’s hard to win when you can’t seem to defend the three-point line.
This was the reason the Boston Celtics came into The Garden and got a win. The Knicks left everyone in green open as the Celtics made a franchise record 27 threes! This was also a franchise record for the Knicks as they have never given up 27 threes in a single game.
Hopefully, these Knickerbockers can make the necessary changes. If not, New York will be looking at yet another mediocre season.