2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks @ Timberwolves – Thibs’ Revenge!

Come on, it is a shitty Timberwolves team and a chance to Thibs to get revenge on a team that he thinks screwed him over?

Can you possibly imagine Thibs letting them lose this one? The Knicks will win if only to prevent Thibs from having a vein pop in his forehead.

It’d be nice if the Knicks did so well that Towns was, like, “Hey, could you trade me there please?”

Let’s go continue to beat up bad teams, Knicks!

NY Post: Heat still own Knicks as winning streak gets snapped

From Marc Berman:

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said during the NBA Finals last October he’d like to build a gritty defensive culture like Pat Riley’s Miami Heat.

Thibodeau has done an excellent job at trying to get there, but his Knicks still can’t beat the Heat.

Their three-game winning streak snapped, the Knicks allowed Miami to sweep the season series, 3-0, as Thibodeau’s favorite player, Jimmy Butler, led a second-half comeback with 27 points.

With Miami getting down and dirtier than the Knicks, the Heat powered to the 98-88 victory at the Garden.

It’s funny. That was a bad loss, no doubt about it, and yet Berman somehow had to be extra douchey about it. The Heat barely edged out back to back wins over the Knicks and then won tonight pretty handedly. How is that “owning” the Knicks?

That said, losses like these definitely do sort of speak to the Knicks’ identity so far this season, which is that Thibs has them working hard for every win, so they don’t lose to bad teams, but after some early wins against some good teams, the Knicks have since spent the last couple of months just not beating good teams. The Heat aren’t even .500 and a possible win over them was (rightly, I believe) seen by Knick fans as being a big statement.

That they couldn’t pull it off was a statement, as well. That they’re the disciplined team that plays above the sum of its parts and always competes, so they’ll take down the bad teams that are undisciplined and are less committed to winning, but then will fall short once they’re up against a good team.

Always beating the bad teams is a very good thing. The fact that I don’t think any one of us really doubts that the Knicks will win on Wednesday is an awesome thing. A lot of that is owed to Thibs. He pushes them the way no one has pushed this team in over two decades. I’m very pleased that this is a team that I have total confidence in against a bad team. I legit can’t even remember the last time the Knicks lost to a bad team (after checking, it looks like it was the Magic over a month ago), but it’s a lot harder to grind out wins against good teams.

Taking down the Heat would have been huge. Not just for the standings (as the East is such a mess that at least a top ten finish seems like a near certainty), but just to reshape the narrative around this team, to give us a happier picture of the future of this team as a playoff threat.

They still have time to reshape that narrative, but it didn’t happen tonight.

Three other stray observations…

1. They really should give Randle a game off. Dude looks like he is pressing. Either Minny or Detroit would be a good spot to rest him a game to get back to at least 90%.

2. While most of the team struggled, Nerlens Noel was outstanding. With the awful Mitch news, we are so lucky that the Knicks have such an excellent backup/fill-in starter in the middle.

3. Alec Burks has been playing so well that it was a bit disconcerting to see him get just four shots (with him hitting two. All four shots were threes) while Rose and Quickley combined for 24 shots (making ten, although they were a strong 5-11 from three between the two of them).

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Sadly No Victor Oladipo Shots

The Knicks host the Heat as the ‘Bockers try to make a statement against one of their playoff rivals at the Garden by beating the Heat.

The Heat should have Victor Oladipo healthy tonight. Let’s hope that he shoots a lot.

The Knicks have Julius Randle back tonight, which is big, as they are definitely going to need him.

Let’s go get three games over .500, Knicks!

NY Post: Mitchell Robinson injury overshadows Knicks’ win over Bucks

From Peter Botte:

The Knicks were not the most depleted team on the floor Saturday night in Milwaukee, but the injury news grew worse for them as the night progressed.

Already playing without All-Star forward Julius Randle, the Knicks lost starting center Mitchell Robinson for an extended period for a second time this season. Robinson broke his right foot during the first quarter to put a heavy damper on the Knicks’ 102-96 win over the injury-riddled Bucks, who were missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and three other starters.

“Obviously, they care about each other a lot. Mitchell’s been terrific for us, so you hate to see it,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “It’s a very close-knit group. You feel for Mitchell because of all the work he’s put in. … You feel for a teammate and that’s part of the game. You have to deal with it as best as you can.”

Alec Burks scored 21 points with 10 rebounds and Derrick Rose contributed 13 points in 29 minutes in his return to the Knicks’ lineup for the first time since Feb. 28 following a positive COVID-19 result. RJ Barrett also scored 21 points and Immanuel Quickley (13) nailed four 3-pointers as the Knicks moved two games over .500 (24-22) for the first time since they were 5-3 on Jan. 6.

I thought it was cute how Botte played into the Bucks’ “injury-depleted” narrative when this was clearly just a schedule loss for them, the second night of a back-to-back before they headed out for a road trip. But no, conveniently, all of their top players all got “injured” out of nowhere. Suuuuuuuure.

Anyhow, for a schedule loss, the Knicks made it way closer than it should have been, but obviously this Knicks team is built around Randle in a way that better teams are not built around their best player. This is more akin to when the Wizards play without Bradley Beal, so this was definitely not a cream puff once Randle went out. It should have been a win, no question about it, but once Randle went down, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park.

It was pretty on brand for Rose to return to action after missing so much time and instantly putting up 15 shots, but eh, I’d still prefer him to Elfrid Payton (which is more a statement about Elf than Rose). Quickley dished out five assists, which was big (although he deferred to Rose a bit more than you’d probably want). If Quickley gets out of this recent shooting slump, that’d be huge.

After the Heat on Monday, the Knicks get another nice schedule break, with the shitty Timberwolves and the shitty Pistons bookending the depleted Mavericks, so this could be the start of a really nice stretch if Randle gets back healthy.

Mitch’s injury was terrible news, but obviously, as we’ve seen, while Mitch is the best of the Knick centers, they have a very good backup center in Noel who is a fine fill-in and Taj is not a bad back-up back-up center. So I’m not too concerned there. It hurts the team, but their depth there is strong. It’s not like, say, Randle going down, ya know?

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks @ Milwaukee Bucks’ White Flag

We have seen earlier this season that some of the top NBA teams are basically just taking schedule losses where they find reasons to rest all of their top guys and luckily for the Knicks, that’s precisely what the Bucks are doing tonight, finding “injuries” for almost their entire rotation, including four of their five starters.

This was a huge break for the Knicks. The ‘Bockers hadn’t beaten a team that currently has a winning record since the middle of February and hadn’t beaten a team with a winning record at the time they played them since the first week of February, so this not only gives them an easy opportunity to fix that stat, it will also put them two games over .500 for the first time since they were 17-15 in 2017-18 (actually, as I write that, that really isn’t that far off from 24-22, but still).

What a great stroke of luck for the Knicks.

Let’s go accept the Bucks’ gift, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks use furious fourth-quarter rally to topple Wizards

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks post-trade-deadline hangover lasted just three quarters before they awoke and ferociously rallied in the fourth quarter for a 106-102 victory over the Wizards at the Garden on Thursday.

After a horrendous first half, RJ Barrett carried the comeback with 24 points on a night Julius Randle wasn’t himself.

And Alec Burks (27 points, 15 in the fourth), rookie Immanuel Quickley (16 points) and Taj Gibson provided grit and scoring off the bench after the Knicks trailed 60-45 at halftime and by 11 after three quarters.

The Knicks outscored Washington 39-24 in the final period. Barrett’s biggest play came on a fast break when he was tied up by Bradley Beal but still finished for a three-point play after which he flexed his biceps. Barrett was just 7 of 22 on the night but scorched the Wizards for nine fourth-quarter points.

Randle, who injured his thigh in the third quarter, responded in the final two minutes to hit two baseline jumpers to cap the comeback. Randle shot just 5 of 16 for 13 points

Sorry again for the lost thread, I was doing a CBR chat from 4-6 and then I had a four hour fantasy draft and the thread fell by the way aside.

Anyhow, I got to turn on the game just in time for the amazing comeback. What a great win! The Knicks needed these two games and they got them, which is awesome.

Now just don’t get Drummond!

Welcome to the Danger Zone: The 2021 NBA Trade Deadline

I truly think that the Knicks are going to play this deadline right this year, but who the fuck knows?

We’ll all find out together. So here is a thread for us all to commiserate/celebrate the trade deadline, one of the most intense days of the NBA season.

NY Post: Julius Randle pours in 37 to lead Knicks past Wizards

From Marc Berman:

Julius Randle got fined $15,000 by the NBA, then tried to score 15,000 points on the lowly Wizards.

Randle took out any lasting referee frustrations on Washington Tuesday at the Garden as he poured in 37 points, making 7 of 10 from 3-point range as the Knicks blew out the Wizards, 131-113. Randle’s seven 3s tied a career-high.

The All-Star power forward, who was punished for his inflammatory remarks about the refereeing in a loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, is the chief reason the Knicks are 22-22, already surpassing last season’s win total when they finished 21-45.

“The statement [he made] was the win was the most important thing,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s done that a number of times for us. To bounce back after a tough loss, and the way we lost the game, that’s what leaders do.’’

Randle, who hasn’t missed a game this season, shot 13 of 24 from the field as the Knicks won a wire-to-wire blowout, leading by as many as 31 points.

The Wizards aren’t good and they were terrible tonight (I thank my lucky stars every day that the Knicks were smart enough to not get saddled with Russell Westbrook’s decline years. Boy howdy), but they have played some good teams really hard recently, so don’t be mistaken, this was a great win.

Randle was dominant, RJ was awesome and Mitch was tremendous. Those were the three most important players on the team coming into the season and they were all great tonight. That’s dynamite.

Now, were there issues? Of course. The bench was mostly terrible outside of Burks, Quickley’s shot is falling apart and his scoring tendencies are making Derrick Rose look subtle (if he peaks at Lou Williams, though, that’s still tremendous value at the #25 pick) and Obi Toppin looks like he’s about to change his last name to DNP-CD and, of course, Thibs kept all the starters in in a blowout, but that’s not as important as the fact that the Knicks kicked the ass of a shitty team and Randle, Mitch and RJ all were great.

Very good win.

2020-21 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Wizards

Simply put, if the Knicks are going to have a chance at avoiding the play-in games, they really need to sweep this home and away versus the Wizards.

I expect they’ll pull it off.

With Derrick Rose now confirming he actually had COVID, who the heck knows what that means for his readiness the rest of the season. Hopefully he’s healed up well.

Let’s go start the sweep, Knicks!

NY Post: Julius Randle furious with refs after crushing Knicks loss: ‘F–king ridiculous’

From Peter Botte:

Julius Randle was in no mood to stick around and talk after the Knicks’ second crushing loss to Philadelphia in less than one week.

The All-Star forward forced overtime with a 3-pointer near the end of regulation, but he was called for what he thought was a “blown call” and a “f—ing ridiculous” loose-ball foul away from the play — leading to go-ahead free throws by Tobias Harris in the closing seconds.

Randle also missed an 18-foot jumper as time expired for an awful 101-100 loss to the Sixers at the Garden, and he stormed away from the podium after answering one question in his postgame Zoom call.

“Blown call by the officials. Not enough contact for them to call the play,” Randle said. “I don’t know who it was — Nerlens [Noel] — but clearly he had possession [of the ball].

“After all the fouling and everything that was going on, for them to call that and decide the game is f—ing ridiculous. They have to do a better job. It’s too many games like this.”

The game was played with two referees because Dannica Mosher was not available due to the league’s health and safety protocols, and both teams complained throughout about the officiating, with both Randle and Thibodeau earning technical fouls earlier in the game.

Randle also had been furious with the officials after he had been called for a travel in the closing seconds of another one-possession loss last Monday in Brooklyn. The NBA ruled the following day that the call was correct.

Isn’t that an odd game recap headline by the Post? It seems more like a side feature and not the recap. Maybe there’s another recap out there that I missed, but I don’t believe so. Odd.

Anyways, it was a thrilling game. A tough loss, but honestly, the Knicks were lucky as fuck to even get to overtime, so I can’t get too upset at them having a tough break there at the end. Thibs was in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation there at the end, as it was such a close call that you gotta take the timeout to preserve the challenge, but obviously they all then saw the replay and knew that there was no way that they would overturn it, as Randle clearly did shove Harris (“They should have let it go!” is something we can all say, but it’s really not much of an argument for an actual NBA player to use). So they at least got to use the timeout to hopefully spook Harris, as Harris did choke on his free throws at the end of the 4th quarter, but I bet Thibs would have loved to have had that timeout back to advance the ball to midcourt and run a legit out of timeout play. But he had to take the timeout to check for the challenge. It was definitely the right call. It just sucked.

Boy, Harris had about as bad of a last couple of seconds of regulation as you possibly could have, letting the game get to overtime on the missed free throws, the Randle circus shot while he was defending him (Randle shoved off there, too, which is why it’s especially weird to be all, “They should have let it go!” when they did let it go earlier) and then losing the ball on the in-bounds play and almost losing the game right there. Crazy stuff.

Anyhow, it was a disappointing loss, but it was still a hard-fought game. Overtime games with Thibs, though, man…hoo boy. Especially as Quickley and Obi were both basically benched at the end of the game and Mitch was hurt. Why do some of these guys have roster spots if they will never, ever ever play? The Knicks just need to get Mitch’s ankle healthy and then sweep these two Wizards games to get back over .500 and with the rest of the Eastern Conference lower class losing games like crazy, they should be fine in the end, and might be in shape to miss the play-in games entirely, especially with LaMelo Ball’s season prematurely over (as an aside, I was just thinking of how fucked up it is that the #7 seed is involved in the play-in games. I know it gives them two-three games instead of one-two games, but it’s really unfair. The idea of the #9 playing the #10 and then the winner playing the #8 seed is a lot more fair).