New York Knicks: Why No One Wants To Play Them In Playoffs
The New York Knicks are playing for a playoff berth. They are 31-27 and currently sit as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff seedings.
If the regular season ended today, the Knicks would avoid being in the play in-game.
The Knicks have improved a lot this season and have been more competitive. Even if they may be in one of the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Knicks are a team that no one probably wants to face.
Here are various reasons why.
The biggest reason for the Knicks’ turnaround this season has been their defense under coach Tom Thibodeau. The numbers don’t lie. They are currently first in opponents’ points per game at 104.2. New York is also 3rd in defensive ratings at 107.8. They are playing harder on defense, much to the credit of Coach Thibs.
Even though the NBA has morphed into more of an offensive game with the three-point barrage, this old saying still holds true. Defense still wins games. A good defense can still slow down a good offense. In the playoffs, that is especially crucial.
The Knicks of the 1990s decade always made noise in the playoffs because of their suffocating defense. The current Knicks with their D can certainly give any playoff opponents fits.
Coach Tom Thibodeau
The biggest credit towards the Knicks’ improvement this season goes to Coach Thibs. Along with improving their defense, he has gotten the Knicks to play hard on a nightly basis. He has certainly changed the culture of this once laughingstock organization.
Thibs may have never won an NBA championship as a head coach but he has plenty of playoff experience coaching. He has won an NBA title as an assistant coach for the Boston Celtics in 2008. So his playoff experience will help this young Knicks team.
Julius Randle/RJ Barrett
Unlike the defense, the Knicks are not one of the tops in offensive efficiency. But they have players who contribute offensively in big ways. Most notably Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. They have created a nice one-two punch offensively this season.
Randle became an All-Star for the first time in his career. He is clearly having the best season of his career and averaging over 20 points per game, grabbing over 10 rebounds a game and dishing out 6 assists per game.
Barrett has improved his overall play this season from his rookie year last season. He upped his scoring average from 14.3 points per game to 17.4 this season. He has also improved his perimeter game. Once a liability, Barrett. is currently shooting 38% from three-point land.
Both Randle and Barrett can handle the ball and score anywhere inside and outside. When both of them are on offensively, the Knicks are a handful for any opponent’s defense.
The New York Knicks depth have also been key to the team’s improvement. All season, they’ve had different players contribute in various ways.
Before he was injured, Mitchell Robinson once again provided strong interior defense with shot-blocking ability. Even with him out, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson have filled in nicely with their defense and hustle plays.
Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks have provided perimeter shooting and strong perimeter defense. Elfrid Payton, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley have contributed at the point guard position. Payton and Rose have created havoc inside with their penetration and drives to the lane. Quickley has provided more outside shooting. Obi Toppin is another player off the bench who provides some athleticism.
Coming into this season, the New York Knicks were not expected to be a playoff team nor even compete for a playoff spot. They were expected once again to be one of the worst teams and play for a high draft pick.
The Knicks have exceeded expectations. Even if they make it to the playoffs, they will likely be underdogs. Especially against top-notch East teams in the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks.
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The Knicks will not be expected to do much. So that will give them less pressure and they can come out loose. That can be a benefit for a team like the Knicks, especially with higher-seeded teams facing more pressure. Upsets are clearly possible in the playoffs and New York is certainly capable of pulling one off this postseason.
What do you think? Do you think the New York Knicks are a team no one wants to face in the playoffs? Leave a comment below.
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