Knicks: How Mitchell Robinson’s impending return will impact the lineup

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Mitchell Robinson returned to practice for the New York Knicks on Wednesday, giving the team much hope as the playoffs near. Robinson’s re-insertion into the lineup will have huge implications on the Knicks’ effectiveness on both ends of the floor.

Foremost, the 25-year-old center is moving well after missing over three months following surgery on his left ankle. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke highly of the defensive stalwart’s encouraging activity levels after Wednesday’s run-through, as Stefan Bondy of the New York Post mentioned.

Knicks: Mitchell Robinson is getting healthy at the right time

Robinson’s progression also comes at an opportune time. While the Knicks are winners in four of their last five games, they’ve allowed 11 of their last 12 opponents to bring down double-digit offensive rebounds. When Robinson was manning the middle in their first 21 games, New York only allowed such performances on eight occasions.

The Western Kentucky product will drastically shift the way in which the Knicks can maintain the boards. He’ll also help New York protect the rim. There are several big men that could be a problem for the Knicks in a potential playoff series.

Will Robinson allow the Knicks to overcome imposing interior offenses in the playoffs?

Kristaps Porzingis was a big factor in all four of the Boston Celtics’ wins over the Knicks this year. He had 30 points against them in the season opener and hit several clutch baskets in their season series.

Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo will also be a tough talent for the Knicks to handle. He’s coupling his elite playmaking with his second-highest scoring average of 19.9 points per game.

Outside of individual matchups, Robinson’s presence alone will alter shots at the rim. Teams with strong interior offenses like the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers will have their hands full dealing with Robinson’s elite shot-blocking.

The Knicks have maintained the league’s seventh-best defensive rating (112.0) in his absence. With the veteran center, they have the potential to field the best defensive unit in basketball.

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