Pacers pest keeps proving that he would fit perfectly with Thibs and the Knicks

He's still the enemy.
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Thibodeau is dubbed as one of the league's least-liked coaches, but New York Knicks players love him. Donte DiVincenzo is in his first season and was quick to defend Thibodeau after The Athletic's annual players survey. When Thibs wasn't listed as a Coach of the Year candidate, Josh Hart voiced his opinion on X (Twitter).

The Knicks are the way they are because of Thibodeau. They're tough, don't make excuses, and can play heavy minutes in the postseason. Part of that is because they don't have much choice because of injuries, but the other is because Thibs conditioned them to do so in the regular season. Hart has played several 48-minute games in the playoffs. He makes it look normal, but it isn't.

It turns out the Pacers have the perfect Thibodeau-type player, too. T.J. McConnell is a pest. He'll annoy you on defense (ask Jalen Brunson) and blow past you on the other end for a layup. He and Alex Caruso might be the best Knicks who aren't Knicks.

T.J. McConnell makes it hard for Knicks fans to dislike him

When Rick Carlisle whined about the officiating and small market teams after Game 2, McConnell said he and his teammates refused to blame the officials.

After Indiana's blowout win on Sunday, he said he and his teammates would take some time to enjoy the win, but they shouldn't let the feeling linger. McConnell pointed out the challenge of returning to MSG with the series tied 2-2.

Taking accountability isn't nearly as common as it should be in the NBA. Maybe it's because of the team the Knicks played in the first round, but McConnell's comments have been a breath of fresh air. He sounds like Brunson, who refuses to blame anyone but himself for New York's shortcomings. Like the Knicks, McConnell also focuses on what matters. The Game 4 win was fun (for the Pacers), but Indiana still has to get two more.

As hated as McConnell is for opposing teams and fan bases when he's on the floor, he's incredibly likable off the court.

That's enough of the pro-McConnell propaganda. As perfect as he'd be with the Knicks, he's still the enemy.