2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Bucks

The Knicks host the really good Milwaukee Bucks tonight at the Garden, so it is very likely that the Knicks will be 0-3 after tonight, but hey, maybe they’ll shock the world!

Dennis Smith Jr. has a quad issue, so he’s out tonight. He joins Quickley (who’s day to day) and Toppin (who is out for the next six-seven games, which sucks). So we should see a lot of Frank Ntilinka tonight, but likely at the 2, as Thibs has so little faith in Frank’s PG prowess that he’s seriously running out Alec Burks as the backup point guard and Burks has been so bad as a point guard. But Burks has been playing well overall. The Knicks should be able to get a pick for him this season.

Randle, oddly enough, might be the starting point right now, although as the point forward.

The starting lineup remains the same.

Let’s go, Knicks!

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325 thoughts to “2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Bucks”

  1. The “Rookie” Wall

    We don’t need no point guard playing
    We don’t need no pick n roll
    No dark sarcasm in the lockeroom
    Thibs just leave them kids alone
    Hey, Thibsy, leave those kids alone
    All in all it’s just another brick in the rim
    (Roger Waters, Knew Your Nicks)

  2. Over/under for how many quarters we keep the score to single digits deficit, at 1.5? I’m going with the over.

  3. So Payton is probably the starting PG! But then what? More Burks at PG? And then? Frank or Harper? Who you got?

  4. We could, and arguably should, go for a walk or read a book or converse with our partners rather than participating

    go easy with the crazy talk there…

    As a scientist

    this sounds interesting…scientist stuff seems like pretty cool work…if you don’t mind me asking – what kind of science stuff do you do raven?

  5. Hoping for some big Jared tonight (DSJ out? Frank won’t play pg.)

    I’m honestly in the “anyone but Elfrid” camp. But I’m kinda proud of Randle for reining in his game (no jinx).

  6. Raven, you are one smart dude. Thanks for making the utterly obvious case so dispassionately, yet so clearly.

  7. Stop, I blush.
    Geo, I must admit i’m more of a bureaucrat now than a scientist — kicked upstairs a few too many times. Nowadays I mostly support real scientists, doing international wildlife conservation. Trying to save snow leopards, tigers, wolverines, marsupial frogs. That sort of thing. Creating protected areas. Stopping poaching. Building local community capacity and governance institutions to manage resources.

  8. Hey, this Peyton guy is pretty good!

    (This should bring a bunch of well-deserved derision, but in fact these first few minutes have been Peyton playing the way one might hope he would.)

  9. Hey a pick and roll with Mitch resulting in a good outcome! Funny how that works

    It’s such an obvious way to go.

  10. is it just me – or, did msg stop showing the score on the screen…if so, smart move on their part to keep folks tuned in…although, so far so good…

    great to see elf starting off strong, can’t be fun to have the weight of the city on you…

  11. international wildlife conservation. Trying to save snow leopards, tigers, wolverines, marsupial frogs. That sort of thing. Creating protected areas. Stopping poaching. Building local community capacity and governance institutions to manage resources.

    good for you raven…that is some cool work…no pressure, but the whole world is counting on you :)

  12. geo: good for you raven…that is some cool work…no pressure, but the whole world is counting on you :)

    Agree, thank you Raven, and keep up the good work. :)

  13. geo: good for you raven…that is some cool work…no pressure, but the whole world is counting on you :)

    Wow. A kid that I coached became the director of a similar organization. He works mostly with to prevent poaching in South Africa. Good for you. I’m proud of you both!

  14. rj gonna rest?

    This is Game 7 of the NBA Finals, Thibs has to do whatever he can to get the win.

  15. Frank keeps picking up the dribble once he crosses half court. Can’t be what Thibs wants. It’s his style, and a PG cannot do that, doesn’t he talk to Clyde?

  16. Frank keeps picking up the dribble once he crosses half court. Can’t be what Thibs wants. It’s his style, and a PG cannot do that, doesn’t he talk to Clyde?

    I was told earlier today this is precisely what Thibs wants, and what Miller, Fizdale, and Hornacek all wanted.

  17. More plus work from Frank. Payton comes back in and immediately makes lazy turnover leading directly to fast break dunk.

  18. Random thought but has Mitch had a 3PA yet? So many times in this first half he has been open on the perimeter and he has passed. I know it’s not ideal him hoisting 3’s but for all the workout videos of him hitting 3’s I would have thought we would have seen 1

  19. You have to give it to Mitch when he’s posting up a little guy just so I can see what he would do

  20. Payton has been very good this first half.

    After shitting on him for awhile I want to give him props so far.

  21. Very nice stretch. I don’t think it’s sustainable given our roster, but you can definitely see a difference in the team under Thibs. Ball movement looks way better.

  22. Who do you think we will play in the Finals? The Lakers would put up a good fight, but the Nuggets could be interesting.

  23. Good teams sometimes shoot like shit for a whole game, so I think that the Knicks can take this one.

  24. Well, we are probably collapsing in the second half as the Bucks start to hit shots, but this has been undeniably fun to watch. Randle has been impressive, he’s shooting like garbage but still getting to the line, rebounding and passing well, and Payton is back to being his adequate self.

  25. dtrickey:
    Random thought but has Mitch had a 3PA yet? So many times in this first half he has been open on the perimeter and he has passed. I know it’s not ideal him hoisting 3’s but for all the workout videos of him hitting 3’s I would have thought we would have seen 1

    Agreed. Expanding Mitch’s game should be a priority.

  26. This half changes everything!
    We can’t tank with a team like this!
    We are contenders!!!

  27. Knox has clearly inched forward on both sides of the ball this year after at least inching forward a bit on defense last year. His starting point was so low, he still has a long way to go, but you can see the beginnings of an NBA player.

  28. KnickFanInCelticLand: How many here picked the knicks up by double digits at the half?Not me.

    To be fair, he didn’t say which team would have the double-digit deficit.

  29. Burks is good, best shooter we’ve seen in years.
    RJ and Payton somewhat reversed to the mean, Frank and Knox were decent, Randle and Mitch solid.
    Good first half but in the first two games we had problems in the second ones,
    let’s see if third time is the charm.

  30. I’m at work and can’t watch. Just looking at the box score I would make the comment that the rap on this year’s Bucks team was that they didn’t have depth. The box score is making it look like that is true.

    The box score is also making it look like I should watch the game on replay when I get the chance. Do you guys agree?

  31. we’ve played pretty decently against everyone we played for a half… but we’ve looked pretty good on the backs of someone getting hot… rj vs indy… randle vs philly and burks today…

  32. Owen:
    I’d love to know what the betting lines are for the rest of this game.

    I’m seeing Knicks at -4!!

  33. It’s really the defense that has impressed me. Aside from a couple of highlight plays the Knicks have kept the Greek Freak from dominating.

  34. I thought Middleton was a stretch when they signed him to that big contract but he’s really good.

  35. Clyde & Breen were talking about it for a minute there, Randle really does look like he’s in better shape this year. He also seems to be doing fewer spin moves/staying in control better.

  36. Knick fan not in NJ: The box score is also making it look like I should watch the game on replay when I get the chance. Do you guys agree?

    For now, i say you should watch the 1st half, i’ll tell about the 2nd half later! ;)

  37. I notice a small but discernible difference in how Mitch is defending so far. He’d have launched 35 feet in the air last year on that head fake.

    And yes, Payton helps keep Mitch from disappearing on offense.

  38. yea mitch hasn’t been jumping as much on pumpfakes… the flipside is that he’s challenging less on those 3pt shots too… which could keep him on the floor better..

    man mitch is really putting his mark on the game…

  39. divicenzo is good…. bad trade that almost happened part 2…. dunno why the bucks were about to trade this guy for bogdanovic…

  40. Mitch probably regrets that. Playing good D all game though. I like it. Saved them a point.

    The way I see it we have six first rounders coming to us for Burks, Randle, and Payton…

  41. How many games do we need before it’s weird Steph is shooting sub 30% from 3

    he’s had months where he’s shot ~30% from what i remember… then he would go super saiyen and go almost 60% the next…

  42. I don’t have MSG will someone please explain to me how we’re winning this game I’m looking at the box score

  43. Wow, Payton following up what will probably be his worst game of the year with what will probably be his best.

  44. I don’t have MSG will someone please explain to me how we’re winning this game I’m looking at the box score

    Payton is playing really well, Burks has been hitting a lot of shots and, most importantly, the Bucks are missing a ton of good looks. They’re 5 for 26 from three!

  45. Brian Cronin: Payton is playing really well, Burks has been hitting a lot of shots and, most importantly, the Bucks are missing a ton of good looks. They’re 5 for 26 from three!

    I also think we hipnotized the ball, as there’s at least 3 times the ball was almost in and then out, all by Milwaukee

  46. Knicks dominating the Bucks is going to send shockwaves across the league.

  47. Yep, that take has aged quickly and poorly.

    We do this every year in the first ten games. So much fun to have the NBA back. Nets and Celts could lose too.

  48. I also think we hipnotized the ball, as there’s at least 3 times the ball was almost in and then out, all by Milwaukee

    Right? How weird was that?

  49. he’s had months where he’s shot ~30% from what i remember

    He’s never hit under 30 percent for a month (except one or two games in an October) in any month of his career. He’s barely ever shot under 35%.

  50. It would be funny if we beat the Bucks and then lost to the newly minted juggernaut Cavaliers to end up 1-4 as expected

  51. Yup, people freaking out about Thibs playing Noel more than Mitch need to find something else to complain about Thibs.

  52. He’s never hit under 30 percent for a month (except one or two games in an October) in any month of his career. He’s barely ever shot under 35%.

    yea you’re right… dec 14-15 … nov 17-18 … i don’t think 3 games is enough tho.. and yes last year counts too but i don’t think he’s the same player from last year..

  53. Randle has been terrific this season, wow. Trade him for firsts (plural)!

  54. Randle has been hitting increasingly ridiculous shots this quarter

  55. So the lead is bigger after the third quarter than it was at the half? Amazing. I thought the Bucks would have adjusted in some way.

  56. Frank literally had a path to the restricted area and just stopped short and passed it out, causing a travel. smgdh

  57. I take back what I said—apparently my stream is a few seconds late lol. FRANK

  58. frank’s best career handle wizardry coming so he could successfully call timeout is pretty on the nose

  59. Can someone please help me out? I can’t find the Knicks on TV. There’s some strange team playing on MSG vs the Bucks.

  60. “frank’s best career handle wizardry coming so he could successfully call timeout is pretty on the nose”

    Also, goddammit yes, was about to say something similar.

    His handle does look slightly better

  61. I half expect the Twilight Zone music to play immediately after this game ends

  62. With Thibs and the current emphasis on defense it seems more difficult for the Knicks to lose its lead, even for the previous two games. It’s also quite smart to recognize that the Bucks is off the mark today so better pack the paint.

  63. God Giannis is a beast. Strip of Frank was brutal.

    Whatever, we have Knox.

    If this game costs us Cade or Jalen, maybe I am ok with it

  64. I was gonna give Frank his props then he gets stripped lol. Unfortunately he’s better off literally not dribbling at all and just spotting up but hey if he shoots it from 3pt range like he is tonight that’s fine by me.

  65. One thing that is different: they are a better coached team and it shows in their D and effort.
    The scoring feels a bit like fool’s gold, but teams that play D are in most games.

  66. Wierd stat of the night already: Payton and Frank combining for 35 points on 19 shots…7/7 on threes

  67. All I want the rest of the way is for Mitch to shoot a three. And just as I write that he passes up a completely open look.

  68. Deeefense:
    I’m pretty sure this game is one of the 7 signs of the apocalypse.

    The Jets and Knicks winning on the same day just might be.

  69. Z-Man said he would lose it if we won 1 of this 3 first games, so this it Z-Man make your prediction that we’re going to the playoffs! ;)

  70. Randle played defense and got a block. Now I know I’m dreaming

  71. Randle has been a very generous teammate setting up his teammates in the halfcourt offense.

    Kudos to him.

  72. I felt like we did a pretty good job on Giannis and I checked the box and he had 27-13-5 , so I guess we did a good job on the rest of the Bucks

  73. If in the afternoon some guy wanted to bet 10k that the Knicks would win this game, i would have taken the bet!

  74. That was 2 of 3, but I’ll take 1!

    1 of 3 suggests that my prediction of 31 wins is a real possibility, right?

  75. DRed:
    I felt like we did a pretty good job on Giannis and I checked the box and he had 27-13-5 , so I guess we did a good job on the rest of the Bucks

    I think that might be a good job on Giannis…

  76. Mark the day. Light a candle every year. The Jets and the Knicks won on the same day!

  77. BigBlueAL:
    So what’s the Knicks ceiling this season, Top 4 seed in the East??

    We just beat the #1 seed, by the transitive property we’re now the #1 seed.

  78. Randle’s apporach this season so far vs last season is so different ….actually looking to assert himself as a leader and setting up his team before getting his, and playing cerebral basketball. Not sure if that’s all Thibs but really impressed so far

  79. It’s kinda crazy how Thibs is essentially running the Fizdale offense except coherently. The point Randle thing without the spin moves and isos is actually working.

  80. We should all have a crow burger tonight
    All the knicks “dead men” resurrected for good

  81. elf obviously played well… but mitch deserves some real kudos … not only for his defense which was stupendous in that 3rd quarter but we actually ran more pnr’s with him and the bucks sold out entirely to stop him….

    rj free throw watch …. 10/14 on the year… 71%.. that’s pretty good… so so game overall but all in all still promising stuff…. the 3s are still a black mark but when you’re ~32-33% shooter you’re going to have plenty of bad days… he doesn’t need to shoot 38% this year but hopefully it doesn’t get worse….

    elf is the only pg on the team that gets into the paint and makes stuff happen and today he just did that… alot…. which i hope people noticed aside from the 3s…. that takes away the stress of having spin and win randle or rj forcing things too much and gets mitch more touches… and is just better for everyone involved…. let’s hope it continues…

  82. If Thibs can get Randle to play like this consistently, we could definitely flip him for a good first at the deadline, or who knows, maybe even keep him. Started 1-7 and finished 8-17, good passing, good rebounding, even tried on defense occasionally, only 2 turnovers. The guards finally hitting shots is a welcome sight but really, Randle gets the game ball. After watching the Bucks obliterate us so many times recently I’m just enjoying this one.

  83. RJ has shown alot of promising signs thru these first 3 games: Shooting 50% from 2pt range and 71% from FT line while averaging over 7 rebs and 4 asts per game. His 3pt shot is the only thing really holding him back right now.

  84. The paint was certainly a lot more open tonight than it was against the Sixers… maybe the Knicks were more aggressive, but the Bucks need to solve that ASAP.

    Can Frank actually become a legit 3 and D guy?? My arm hair is standing on end. Yet he does seem to be fouling a lot this year…

    If Knox and Frank can relegate BulLOCK to the bench, that would be a nice win.

  85. Well that was weird.

    This version of Julius Randle is pretty much what we’re hoping Obi Toppin turns out to be.

  86. Not a good game for Lopez. He’s been a big part of their defense the last couple of years but he looked stuck in mud tonight. If he’s lost his defensive effectiveness that’ll really hurt them.

  87. Best game in a loooong time, finally my sleepless hours were deserved.
    First of all, Payton made me eat crow. I still think he’s not a good player, but tonight he had a prideful reaction after one of the worst game of his career.
    The Thibs’ version of Randle is way better than the Fizdale’s one, I don’t know if they’ll try to trade him but we’ll see.
    Frank and Knox with little steps forward, Knox in particular looks much more mentally involved and Frank’s performance could mean that DSJ’ll be glued to the bench forever.
    Mitch had a bunch of plays that let you dream about what he could become.
    Burks looks like this year’s Morris, only better. He was the catalyst in the first break and has the highest /- of the team.
    RJ’s offensive struggles are worrysome but he’s shooting FTs decently and never stops playing, his assist and rebounds are solid.
    I can’t wait to have IQ and Obi back and I’m curious about Rivers.
    It’s a crazy season, we slap the Bucks, Charlotte beat the Nets and the Cavs rolled the 76ers and are unbeaten… except for the preseason :-)

  88. And don’t tell me that wasn’t the Thibs effect cause i won’t buy it.
    Stopping the Freak with playoffWallsD was the key to the game.

  89. If Randle keeps this up and Burks actually has morphed into Bradley Beal this probably a back of the lottery team- you wonder if the Knicks would move Burks if they look like they might have a shot at the 8th seed. Still more likely they’re right at the top of the lottery.

  90. “Developing a winning culture” and “playing the right way” make sense after this game.
    We hear these catchy phrases frequently enough but without performances to back them up so we’re kind of skeptical about them.
    I’d like to see the next developing step of this young squad. Are they able to become a decent nba core?

  91. Some very very strange lines tonight.

    Washington lost to the Magic, whose starters got their clock cleaned. Westbrook didn’t play. Beal was 10-29.

    Deni was a plus 13 and Isaac Bonga was a plus 20. And they started some guy named Raul Neto who I have never heard of. Jake Layman who is starting for the Wolves is in that category too.

    Cole Anthony was 6-6 from the line and had 7 boards in 18 minutes. He and the rest of the Magic bench mob went nuts, including 18-18 from the line. Michael Carter Williams was a plus 28.

    Basketball is pretty strange. I wonder what the real story of this game was.

    Also, Alan needs gifs and we all need Alan’s gifs.

  92. GSW barely pull it out against the Bulls. I imagine Warriors fans are panicking right now. Curry finishes 5-15 from 3, so above .300 if anyone was worried.

  93. DRed:
    sucks that after the Bucks we have to play the best team in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers

    Honestly seems like a classic let-down game we’re destined to lose

  94. This version of Julius Randle is pretty much what we’re hoping Obi Toppin turns out to be.

    Which is why I still think we should trade Randle if we can get a good offer at the deadline. Unless Obi still looks like a lost cause by then. But he’s been mostly playing within himself so far, and it’s been fun to watch point Randle actually work.

  95. And they started some guy named Raul Neto who I have never heard of

    Neto’s been a rotation guy in the league for a few years. He’s okay, could certainly play for the Knicks.

  96. Mitch has done a much better job of staying out of the lane on teammate’s drives this year. Last year any time someone drove the ball Mitch moved into the lane looking for lobs/putbacks but this year he’s been more disciplined. It’s probably hurt his offensive rebounding numbers but I think both RJ and Randle have benefitted.

  97. I’m not buying that Randle is going to keep shooting 3s at a solid rate, but he’s playing good basketball either way. How many PFs out there can give you 20 efficient points a night, rebound well, be a solid secondary playmaker, and be adequate on defense? He’s a skilled guy. He’s 26. He’s reaching his prime physically and with good coaching and proper use he may reduce the mental errors. It’s only going to help if we upgrade the shooting. If he could hit 3s in the 35% range or above, we’d be crazy to trade him.

  98. Knew Your Nicks:
    “Developing a winning culture” and “playing the right way” make sense after this game.
    We hear these catchy phrases frequently enough but without performances to back them up so we’re kind of skeptical about them.
    I’d like to see the next developing step of this young squad. Are they able to become a decent nba core?

    When the ball is moving, Randle is one of your leading playmakers, and you are playing defense for 48 minutes, you are on your way to playing the game the right way. The talent is limited, but the coaching is excellent. We need a couple of upgrades and more time for the young players to mature and develop, but we are on the right path FINALLY.

  99. Z-man:
    Burks looks really smooth. Really hard to believe he’s perceived as a scrub.

    IMO, Morris was a mediocre player before joining the Knicks last year He kind of broke out for us. Burks is playing well now. Keep your fingers crossed and hope he sustains it, If he does we either have a good scorer off the bench or we’ll get something for him later. He was never this kind of player though.

  100. Burks had his best season last year and it was nothing special. Thing is even a league average two guard where you don’t have to move mountains to make salaries work will still have real value at the deadline. And having a league average player anywhere on the roster is an upgrade for the Knicks.

  101. While Payton and Frank had good nights, don’t lose sight that Randle was playing point forward tonight, even with them on the floor.

  102. I keep going back to the box score to try and make sense of what I just saw (by the way, an hour before gametime I finally broke down and got League Pass so I can watch them — should I take credit for the W?). It’s like half the team played well enough, while the other half played to their platonic ideal.

    Whatever, that was fun. Let’s never forget the Iggy near-fisticuffs as one of the highlights.

    Anyway, on to Cleveland, where we’ll get no Love…

  103. Randle always had talent and had been a productive if flawed player in the past, and he is not as bad as he looked last year. He only had two turnovers tonight against a good defensive team while doing lots of playmaking, so a tip of the hat to him. Obviously he’s not going to play like this every night but this version of him is a useful player.

  104. That sequence where Mitch refused to bite on multiple Giannis fakes until the MVP threw up a brick from close range was a work of goddamn art.

  105. Alan:
    That sequence where Mitch refused to bite on multiple Giannis fakes until the MVP threw up a brick from close range was a work of goddamn art.

    I feel as if he did a competent job of challenging enough of Giannis’ forays into the paint to at least create some hesitate on the latter’s part. The numbers will look good for the Greek Freak but he wasn’t rampaging on us like crazy either.

  106. Passing by just to say that I’ll eat my crow regarding Elfrid Payton, who was deservedly trashed here yesterday. Don’t know what miracle possibly happened to him overnight.

  107. DRed: Neto’s been a rotation guy in the league for a few years.He’s okay, could certainly play for the Knicks.

    Exactly. Neto has been in the NBA since 2015-2016, I believe. He spent four years in Utah. He was supposed to be a garbage time PG there, but he ended up always getting minutes because of the endless Dante Exum’s injuries (unfortunately, despite some flashes, he couldn’t carve a larger space because he would often get injured too). He was one of Gobert’s best friends there. In Brazil everybody knows him as Raulzinho. He’s currently the starting PG for Brazil’s national team.

  108. good for elf, good for the team…

    I like that julius is getting the ball outside the arc and facing the rim, much less spinning this year…

    those four frank threes were freaky…mitch dominated on defense…

    kevin looks different this year, sort of how frank seemed to be gaining confidence last season…

  109. I think a lot of credit needs to go to the coaching staff. The defensive scheme was awesome. Whenever Giannis got his hands on the ball, the Knicks established a 3-man wall to prevent him driving into the lane. Mitch stepped high into the paint and two wings collapsed to stand side by side with him, forcing him to the flanks or to kick it out. Keeping him out of the paint was key.

    Alec Burks also gets a little gold star. Back to back 3-point shots before the half broke the game open.

  110. Quiz time:

    Player A – 26 points/36, TS 55, USG 32.8, TRB% 13.6, AST% 32.3, WS/48 0.155

    Player B – 24 points/36, TS 65, USG 26.5, TRB% 15, AST 31.2, S/48 0.189

    A of course is Lebron, B is Julius Randle

    I’d like to enjoy this just for a while.

    Frank’s 4 3’s were obviously great, but under the radar a bit has been Knox IMO – he actually looks like an NBA player now. They have to work with him on his closeouts, but otherwise I think he’s been….pretty good? The shot is not really falling yet, but he’s generally taking good shots. And obviously a tiny little sample but his steal, block, and assist rates are trending in the right direction which matches the eye test (basically he isn’t charging blindly into 3 dudes and throwing up prayers anymore).

    I don’t even know what to say about Payton. I guess nothing other than I’m happy for him that he had this one game.

  111. Tom Thibodeau may end up saving Scott Perry’s job if he can continue to get Julius Randle to play the way he has in these first three games. Even though we lost decisively in the first two games, I’ve been impressed with the way we’ve looked most nights. I’d like to see RJ Barrett get more of an opportunity to initiate things with the first unit instead of just giving it to Julius and running to the corner, but other than that the Knicks are a team with a plan on both ends and that’s awesome.

    I’m expecting a big game from RJ Barrett tomorrow night. Cleveland’s backcourt is way too small to be able to keep RJ from getting what he wants so he has to take advantage of them early and often. It’s still very early, but I want 25 points on 15 FGA from him. Garland is playing like he should have been picked ahead of RJ right now, so if he doesn’t show up I expect to see Berman talk about how Steve Mills wanted to trade down for Garland.

  112. Someone must have drilled into Randle the futility of twirling into a triple team and forcing up the shot. He consistently drove into the lane and kicked the ball out when the defense collapsed. Having a wing that can knock down a 3 pointer is key. Burks and Bullock were good signings.

  113. GoNYGoNYGo – Tanking forever:
    Someone must have drilled into Randle the futility of twirling into a triple team and forcing up the shot. He consistently drove into the lane and kicked the ball out when the defense collapsed.Having a wing that can knock down a 3 pointer is key. Burks and Bullock were good signings.

    Thibs had to have seen it one too many times and practice and told him “for every one of those spin moves into double teams you like so much, I’m taking a minute from you and giving it to our lottery pick Obi Toppin. Do what you will with this information.” I think both Thibs and Randle are motivated to make it work here because they don’t have too many lives left in the NBA as head coach and starter respectively. The early returns have been encouraging to say the least.

  114. Elf is not going to have many shooting nights like that — nor will Frank, assuming he stays in the rotation when Quickley and/or Rivers are healthy — so we should enjoy them when they happen. But there’s been tangible improvement elsewhere on the roster:

    * RJ’s free throw shooting, decision-making, and all-around game are all much improved, even if the three-point shot still isn’t really there;
    * Mitch still has his dumb fouls now and again, especially against crafty post players like Sabonis, but on the whole has kept himself on the court and causing problems for opposing players who come into the paint;
    * Randle is proving that Fizdale’s point forward idea wasn’t insane, just horribly executed, as he’s mostly cut out the spinning and wild passes and is playing within himself; and
    * Knox no longer looks like a giraffe on roller skates, nor like someone who only learned the game of basketball two days ago, and if he’ll never be as good as SGA, Mikal, or Porter, he at least appears salvageable as a rotation player, which did not seem possible until recently.

    (There’s also Burks playing a bit over his head, though this feels more like opportunity/role than a drastic change in his game.)

    I’d like to see more pick-and-roll, but the offensive schemes no longer look like players running around with no purpose, and there was more to the defense last night than the Bucks bricking shots. Coaching! Who knew?

  115. As far as I can see the difference between last game and the previous two was the sustained PG play. In each of them we started off strong, either leading or being close to the lead by the end of the first half. The fact that Payton was very good in the 2nd half against Milwaukee figured big in our ability to maintain a lead. Makes you wonder what we could do with a healthy Quickley and Rivers playing replacement level point guard.

  116. there was more to the defense last night than the Bucks bricking shots. Coaching! Who knew?

    Alan – I’d love to agree with you but at least according to NBA stats page, the Bucks shot 38 3 pointers last night. 25 of them were considered wide open no defender within 6 feet (they shot 6 for 25 on those), 12 were considered open with 4-6 feet of space (1 for 12), and 1 had tight coverage (0-1).

    It was a really nice win but if Frank + Elf went 3 for 7 (42%!) instead of 7 for 7 from 3, and the Bucks shot 9 for 25 (36%) on wide open 3’s, we lose that game….

    We can prob chalk this one up to “just one of those games”, but even with normalizing the 3 point shot percentages would’ve mean us being in a 1 or 2 possession game with Milwaukee, which is progress!

  117. One thing a like a lot is that despite all the complaining about the lack of a PG, the Knicks are clearly trying to the play the game using more ball movement and several players making plays. IMO, that’s the better way to play the game than having your PG dominate all the playmaking the way a lot of teams do now (other than the great Warriors teams, Spurs and few others. It’s a work in progress. We are still near the bottom of the league in team assists, but you see that they are pushing Randle, RJ, and others to improve their playmaking . The shooting has been terrible overall. With some better shooting the assists will also rise a bit.

  118. The IQ-led light up of Garland and the Cavs is taking on a bit of a different tone with the Cavs’ and Garland’s start.

    Randle’s playing very well, but I still don’t want to build the team and the offense around him in this way. It’s not the answer to anything other than doing the best you can with his and the roster’s flaws, and I want the ball in IQ’s and RJ’s hands when IQ gets healthy, with the modern offense and action that will bring. Time to find a sucker and sell high on him. He’s got a friendly contract to do so.

  119. Thibs has it right. If the young players keep working hard individually to add little things to their games over time and improve playing as a “team”, all those little things will compound themselves into more significant progress as a team. It could be as simple as one guy becoming a better FT shooter, another guy making better decisions and reducing his TOs, another guy staying more alert defensively, making the right rotation and being in the right spot more often, another guy diving for loose balls for a single extra possession etc.. It’s going to be slow, but if each young player adds 1 new thing every off season and inches forward on what he already does well, as the season progresses the team will get better and better, but they have to put in the work and want to be a team instead of worrying their individual stats.

  120. Knox’s line still looks putrid. I agree there have been some faint signs of hope but overall he still isn’t an NBA basketball player.

    Rand;e’s defense has looked a little better but he is never going to be a positive on that end. I am loving what he is doing so far though.

    And Frank. He hit some wide open threes and he even swished some contested threes. It’s been so long since I saw him do that. Hopefully he bought himself a little time.

    Elf hit that little teardrop floater coming across the paint from left to right about 8 times. He was actively hunting that shot. Is that something he used a lot last year and I am just forgetting it? Highly effective last night.

  121. I’ve lived on Ntilikina Island for 3 years, but like many New Yorkers this year, when my lease came up I decided not to renew.

    I’m out on you, Frank. Don’t be fucking with me like this.

  122. Frank’s 4 3’s were obviously great, but under the radar a bit has been Knox IMO – he actually looks like an NBA player now.

    IMO, Knox is making clear progress on the defensive side. I even noticed a play where he made a mistake and got beat and was furious at himself. So at least now, when he makes a mistake he knows what he did wrong. He’s got to get the 3 ball dropping more consistently and get to the FT line at his usual pace and he’ll be fine. I don’t feel like having him the court (at least off the bench) is such a huge negative anymore. We’ll see if he can keep it up and get back on track.

    Frank is in a weird position. When he doesn’t handle the ball as much, he’s not going to get as many assists (or TOs for that matter). I think he’s got to try to get more aggressive on the boards to at least add something besides defense and shooting 3s because he’s obviously not gong to be a major forces on offense even if he’s made progress as a 3 point shooter.

  123. Deeefense:
    One thinga like a lot is that despite all the complaining about the lack of a PG, the Knicks are clearly trying to the play the game using more ball movement and several players making plays.

    It’s clear that Thibs is running a Triangle oriented defense like the Warriors ran, where the 1 is moving without and playing off the ball in half-court sets. It’s why a guy like Quickley, who has experience as a sharpshooting combo guard in Kentucky, fits so well with what we’re doing. It’s why I also don’t have an issue with Frank playing the 1 there either so long as he can make his 3s at a respectable rate, which was always the plan Phil and Clarence had for him in their offense. And its also true that Randle has/can filled that “point forward” role in this Golden State triangle offense the way Draymond did when his ability to pass the ball in full and halfcourt sets allowed Steph and Klay to play off the ball more than Mark Jackson’s point guard dominant offense called for. There was a reason he racked up more assists than Steph did for a few years in that offense.

  124. There had been 5 games over the past five seasons in which one team shot greater than 59% from 3 and the other team shot below 19%. Now six. So this was literally a once a season outlier in terms of shooting discrepancy – not once per season per team, but literally there will only be about one game every season among all teams in which that variance swings this strongly in favor of one of the teams. And as Frank detailed the Bucks 3s were largely wide open. So we can and should enjoy this one but lets also understand the nature of what happened.

    I can already hear Breen saying in the 2nd quarter tomorrow “The Knicks just haven’t come out with the same passion* and desire** we saw on Sunday”.
    *Making every shot
    **Opponent missing every shot

  125. Alan: Elf is not going to have many shooting nights like that — nor will Frank, assuming he stays in the rotation when Quickley and/or Rivers are healthy — so we should enjoy them when they happen

    Yes. But if that is true, this game underscores the need to replace them with someone that can do it consistently. I like Payton and think Frank could have a role – as long as they are not zeros on offense. I still don’t think either is a legit NBA starter.

    Owen: Knox’s line still looks putrid.

    Knox’s numbers may look bad, but he was 17 for a reason. He was diving on the floor, playing in-your-face on-man defense and outstanding team defense.

  126. I think we are going to have a lot of trouble with Cleveland. When we beat them in preseason they didn’t play Drummond or Love. Love may not play this game but Drummond likely will. When we lost to them Mitch and Noel couldn’t handle Drummond and both almost fouled out trying.

  127. Knox and Frank have to be treated like rookies, on the same par as IQ and Obi. They are in fact younger than Obi and never should have entered the draft when they did. Frank is a RFA playing for a contract, and if he shows out in practice he should get minutes. If not, see what he gets offered and either match or don’t.

    Last night had fluky elements, but the team played hard and smart for the most part. They looked like a cohesive team who understands that the coach is in charge, which is a nice change from the parade of lame ducks we’ve been running out there.

  128. Obviously, last night’s win was FANTASTIC. Elf played great but it also kind of proved to me why we need Quickley getting some minutes. Elf ain’t gonna shoot like that most nights. Randle isn’t a great 3 point shooter and neither is RJ. Frank and Knox are still unreliable from deep. Quickley doesn’t need to start but we need his shooting out there cause when we shoot well from deep, we’re a completely different team.

    But I am very encouraged so far. This is what having a real coach and a great coaching staff does. So far we’ve played very well in the first half of every game because we are prepared. The defense is good. The movement on offense when player’s don’t have the ball is good and the sharing/passing is good. We fell apart in the second half against Philly and Indy but last night we played a completely game. But so far in every game we’ve come out strong. This is a breath of fresh air compared to the last few years when so many games we fell behind right away.

    And there is a lot more to be encouraged about beyond just last night.

    Mitch is staying out of foul trouble and staying in the game. That alone makes a huge difference to the defense. He doesn’t need to put up monster stats to affect the game.

    RJ is playing well even when he’s not shooting well. He’s gonna have rough shooting nights from outside because his shot is a work in progress. But he helps in other areas and the FT shooting looks improved.

    Knox seems more confident but also just like he knows what he’s doing out there.

    Randle is playing so much better.

    Burkes is a good pick up.

    This was a great win and I’m sure it feels good for Thibs to get the first one under the belt. Now we just gotta build off of it. But man, it feels nice to know that Team Optimism might be adding some new members this season.

  129. If you roughly even out the shooting we didn’t play that badly but we should have lost that game yesterday. But that’s fine-the Bucks are a lot better than we are.

    Going forward an improved Randle could be real, and Alec Burks with a good shot selection is at least an averagish 2 guard. You can see the outline of a path towards being a bit better than expected this season.

  130. Z-man: Knox and Frank have to be treated like rookies, on the same par as IQ and Obi.

    That is nonsense. Frank was been a pro for years before he was drafted. He’s faced men. Knox has had 2 years of solid experience too. Obi and IQ didn’t have that. They are just getting used to the size and speed of the NBA, learning the differences between college and the pros.

    Knox and Frank should be treated like players holding on to the last threads of their careers. It’s a make or break season for both. And if you say Knox and Frank, you have to add DSJr to the conversation. All three are fighting for their professional lives.

  131. Knox’s line still looks putrid.

    This is why I get frustrated with stat talk sometimes. I get that in the grand scheme of things you want your players to put up good stats in an efficient manner but a big part of basketball for young players is learning how to contribute to winning basketball when you aren’t shooting well. The easiest thing in the world is to hang your head and not commit on D if you aren’t getting the ball on offense or you aren’t scoring or your shot is off. But playing good defense, rebounding, boxing out, setting screens, continuing to move on offense, sharing the ball and passing the ball. Drawing charges, etc. These are all things that do not show up in the box score (except maybe in plus/minus) but absolutely affect the outcome of the game.

    This isn’t to say that if Knox or Frank continues to not score that they should be long term pieces to our team. But no team is going to have 10 rotation players who all put up efficient stats every game. Getting players to continue to play smart and hard when they aren’t scoring or they’re getting roasted by another player on defense…that’s the key to having a TEAM win games.

  132. Re: Knox, it is more useful for fans to wipe the slate clean with him and treat him like he is a mid-teens draft pick. He needs to build a game from the ground up, meaning between the ears, then his body, then defense, then offense. Under Fizdale, he was basically rolled out there with no coaching or consequences. Then Miller started holding him accountable but it was too late. Thibs clearly likes him and is building his game the right way. So to judge him based on offense is unfair, as he is clearly being told to just be opportunistic but concentrate mostly on D. The eye test and some subtle things in the stats suggest that something good is going on with him, nothing to hang your hat on but slight improvement in steals and lower usage so that his shooting isn’t a big deal, which seems to be reflected in his better on/off numbers. It could be a mirage and he may level off at horrible, but at least the approach seems correct.

  133. Look at Knox’s 2PT% compared to his first two years. That’s the potential canary in the coal mine, plus there’s the fact that he’s growing into his body and moving more like a man than a foal on roller skates.

  134. GoNYGoNYGo – Tanking forever: That is nonsense. Frank was been a pro for years before he was drafted. He’s faced men. Knox has had 2 years of solid experience too. Obi and IQ didn’t have that. They are just getting used to the size and speed of the NBA, learning the differences between college and the pros.

    Knox and Frank should be treated like players holding on to the last threads of their careers. It’s a make or break season for both. And if you say Knox and Frank, you have to add DSJr to the conversation. All three are fighting for their professional lives.

    If Obi was drafted at age 18, how do you think he’d be doing right now?

    It’s not useful to treat them like you suggest. As long as they are here, give them a clean slate, try to develop them and see what they have. Don’t trust what they were in the past, don’t have preconceptions.

  135. E, two-way G-Leaguer:
    Look at Knox’s 2PT% compared to his first two years.That’s the potential canary in the coal mine, plus there’s the fact that he’s growing into his body and moving more like a man than a foal on roller skates.

    Yes, I noticed that but neglected to include it….his usage is so low that it doesn’t say much, but it’s good that he’s taking less bad shots from 2.

  136. I don’t think Nance Jr. played either.

    “This is why I get frustrated with stat talk sometimes. I get that in the grand scheme of things you want your players to put up good stats in an efficient manner but a big part of basketball for young players is learning how to contribute to winning basketball when you aren’t shooting well.”

    Look, Knox looks a little more competent out there but that’s also because the bar he is clearing is literally one of the very worst players in the NBA. He’s played three game and has a TS% of 46%.

    I think there is a little halo effect from his hot shooting in preseason here, which is fine, but his numbers so far have been bad.

    On to Farfa!

  137. Z-man: If Obi was drafted at age 18, how do you think he’d be doing right now?

    It’s not useful to treat them like you suggest. As long as they are here, give them a clean slate, try to develop them and see what they have. Don’t trust what they were in the past, don’t have preconceptions.

    Had Obi played in the Euro league for 3 years and then got drafted at 18 and was as unproductive as Ntilikina today, I would treat them the same. And to answer your question, better than Frank by far.

  138. i know memories are short here but we literally went through this whole knox thing last year when he was scorching hot from 3 to start the season…. and he’s not even hitting shots…. this is more psychological phenomena than anything promising….

    it’s good to have hope… but it’s dead jim….

  139. Knox has gone from being among the most clueless ineffective defensive players I’ve ever seen to looking like he could at least wind up competent. If his stroke ever translates to games he might turn out to be a genuine rotation player. He’s 21 and was completely overmatched both physically and mentally his first two years. Most guys like that quietly disappear and that may still be Knox’s fate but the game has clearly slowed down some for him. He ain’t dead yet.

  140. Great ‘cap Farfa. I actually just plugged in my PS4 for the first time in over two years and was wondering what games I should get. Upon reading this I got Knicks analysis and some answers all-in-one.

    Whether or not there will be interest in Randle is an interesting question. I’m still unsure of how much he can do for a legitimately great team (especially at his price tag), but it wouldn’t shock me if one of the not-really-contending-but-playoff-thirsty teams has some interest if he can keep playing well. Atlanta could theoretically send us Snell + an asset, and Dallas could do the same with James Johnson (we’d have to calculate the cost of worsening their pick into any trade we made with them).

    Burks on the other hand will gin up a bidding war at this rate.

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