Thibs' Anunoby injury update shows he might finally have learned his lesson

The Knicks' injuries may cost them, and Thibs deserves plenty of the blame.
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are on the brink of reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2000. They are just one win away and had a chance to close things out on Friday night, but the Pacers had other ideas. Indiana dominated the Knicks to force a Game 7. Blame Stephen A. Smith’s jinx if you wish, but the injury to Josh Hart could prove massive as the series shifts back to the Big Apple.

The 6’4 wing was the latest Knick to suffer an injury. Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Bojan Bogdanovic have been ruled out for the season. OG Anunoby missed his fourth straight game on Friday night with a hamstring injury. Jalen Brunson and Isaiah Hartenstein are playing through ailments, but Hart’s abdominal injury may sink their season.

Tom Thibodeau is an elite coach, but his fatal flaw is catching up to him. Did he finally learn his lesson? His comments after their Game 6 loss show he may have.

Tom Thibodeau may have learned a crucial lesson from this playoff run

Thibs is known for giving his best players massive minutes. Josh Hart, OG Anunoby, and Jalen Brunson are all averaging over 40 minutes per game during this playoff run. Each has suffered an injury. Brunson is playing through his foot ailment, and fans should expect Hart to give it a go in Game 7.

Thibodeau was asked about Anunoby’s status for Sunday, and he deflected the question to the medical staff.

There is no knocking Thibs’ resume. He is unquestionably one of the best coaches in the NBA, but his minutes distribution is an issue. There has been plenty of criticism, but his players do not want to hear it. They would love to play all 48. It is the coach’s job to protect them from overuse injuries. Thibs must lean on his medical staff to evaluate the optimal minute's load each player can handle.

The Knicks head coach cannot change his strategy now. If Hart and Anunoby are both out, New York only has six trusted rotation options to play. Thibodeau will have to give each massive minutes if they have any chance of defeating the Pacers and advancing to the next round.

Expect Josh Hart to suit up for Game 7. He played through his abdominal injury for three quarters on Friday night before being ruled out for the game. He wants to help his teammates, but the injury will certainly hamper his effectiveness.

Does head coach Tom Thibodeau change next season and beyond? He is no stranger to success. Playing your best players helps you win, so it is a fine line every HC must walk. Thibs needs to back off a little to keep his players healthy and on the floor. Stay tuned for injury updates, and do not miss Game 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. The Knicks believe they can win no matter who is in the lineup, so there should be plenty of excitement and drama.