Since the All-Star Break, the Knicks have played well over their last nine despite the fact they’ve lost six contests. They came out of the break with an 0-4 start, but were able to pick it up of late. Early woes with this somewhat-new-look rotation seemed to have ironed out in game four after the Break.
In the first three games, the Knicks lost by an average of 15 points. But in that fourth game out of the break, against a title contender in the Phoenix Suns, the Knicks managed to hang in all night, losing on a buzzer-beater at around 12am Eastern Time that undoubtedly kept the die-hards up and immediately haunted those who fell asleep. Not only did they follow that up with two wins, but they did so in as many nights in the west coast. Plus, the Clippers and the Kings, the teams the Knicks beat after the heartbreaker, are fighting for a play-in spot.
It became a three-game winning streak after a complete obliteration of the Kristaps Porzingis-less Dallas Mavericks, who was shipped to the Washington Wizards.
But since then, back-to-back losses to the Memphis Grizzlies and the Brooklyn Nets, but only by four and three points, respectively.
But when you take a look at why the Knicks have suddenly made games entertaining, one could understand the frustration.
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau finally listened and made an adjustment.
Since December, fans had been begging for more RJ Barrett and more Immanuel Quickley. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau is finally getting those two men more chances on offense. Barrett has been on a stretch since January that has made fans drool. Since turning the calendar to 2022, Barrett is averaging 23.8 points per game. Since the All-Star Break, he’s averaging 26.4 points per game.
Quickley was averaging 21 minutes per game before the All-Star Break. Since then, he’s averaging 26 minutes and 14 points a game. In these last nine games, he’s dropped 21 and 27 in back-to-back games. He shot 11 free throws against the Kings, which is exactly what you want from a 90% career shooter from the charity stripe.
Yes, Quickley’s shot selection at times makes you scratch your head, but he has been making strides now that Kemba Walker isn’t with the team. Plus, when he’s hot, he can be electrifying and who do you trust with that second unit to be the leading scorer?
Before his injury in Sacramento, Cam Reddish had shown spurts of promise, including a 17-point showing against the Clippers. He, unfortunately, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a separated shoulder.
Finally, it would be irresponsible to not give Julius Randle his props. Since the Break, he’s averaging 24 points and eight rebounds. He turned back to last season’s Randle against Domantas Sabonis and the Kings, torching them for 46 points and 10 rebounds.
Now, fans had been asking for less of Randle and more of Barrett and more of an opportunity from Quickley. Thibodeau finally has granted the wish of the fans which is sweetened by Randle’s fine play of late.
But if there is frustration, it’s understandable. Fans have been clamoring for this for at least three months. Maybe if this adjustment was made at an adequate time, the story of the season might be different.