Is Tom Thibodeau costing the Knicks wins by benching Immanuel Quickley in 4th quarters?

New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) reacts to the crowd against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Footprint Center
Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks did not have time to bask in their win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, as the Oklahoma City Thunder handed them a 129-120 defeat in their most recent outing.

Could the loss have been prevented?

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau subbed out Immanuel Quickley with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter with the Knicks trailing by five points. Up until that point, Quickley had put up 12 points in just as many consecutive minutes.

After Quickley came out, the Knicks were not able to close the distance, instead letting the Thunder break away and come out with the victory.

Knicks: Coach Thibodeau Delves into Decision to Bench Quickley Late Against Thunder

After the game, Thibodeau justified his decision to swap Quickley out for RJ Barrett by saying this, per KnicksMuse on Twitter:

Thibodeau’s response does not do enough to rectify departing from Quickley’s hot hand. It’s uncommon for players to see more than 12 minutes in any stretch of a given game, even with a coach like Thibodeau.

However, at the pace Quickley was scoring, four minutes was not likely to leave him gassed and unable to close out on the same high note. This trend has persisted for several games now. Donte DiVincenzo has found favor in Thibodeau’s rotation, especially down the stretch of games.

Several Knicks Shooting Guards Make Quickley’s Minutes Opportunities More Scarce

DiVincenzo has bumped Quentin Grimes out of what was expected to be a breakout season with an increase in minutes and role, and Quickley has suffered too as a result. DiVincenzo has played great, but so has Quickley.

Compared to his 2022-23 campaign, Quickley is seeing five fewer minutes despite averaging career-highs 15.1 points per game on 45.5 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from outside. The Knicks have enjoyed play from the Kentucky product that is worthy of early Sixth Man of the Year recognition yet again. More minutes, especially in money time will strengthen his case and the chances of the Knicks picking up more wins.

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