Come the 4th quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night, the New York Knicks had pulled their entire starting team.
The starters were simply abysmal in the loss, as the second team climbed back from a 24-point deficit in the second half. Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier contributed just four combined points, while RJ Barrett earned nine and Julius Randle 16.
At this point in the season, the Knicks simply need more from their starters, and the excuse of developing chemistry and jelling is simply no longer justified.
“You know what they say: When it’s 10 games, they say you need 20,” Thibodeau said. “When you say 20, they say you need 30; at 30, you say 40.
Thibodeau was critical of his top players after the defeat, indicating they need to be better now and not provide a timeline for improvement.
“And before you know it, the season is over. So that’s a bunch of bulls—.”
Calling them out well hopefully brew a bit of accountability, as the Knicks canâ€™t continue to climb out of significant deficits early in games if they want to be a playoff-caliber team.
“Yeah, just they didn’t play well,” Thibodeau said after benching the starters. “That’s it. We’ve gotta figure it out. And right now we’re playing well on the road and we’re not playing well at home, which is unusual. So we’ve gotta get that straightened out.”
The second team rose to the occasion against Milwaukee, especially Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, who contributed 22 and 18 points apiece. They connected on 12 three-point shots, while the starters only contributed four.
One of the biggest issues in the starting unit has been point guard Kemba Walker, who was shot below 33% from deep over the last four games. At some point, Thibodeau may have to consider starting Rose, so the team can get off to a more adequate start. I would also anticipate Immanuel Quickley earning more minutes in the coming days after posting 18 points and four assists over 27 minutes on Wednesday.
Going into the season, the Knicks were considered to be one of the deepest teams in the league, but they didnâ€™t anticipate the starters playing so poorly at times. Luckily, they have been able to supplement deficiencies at specific spots, but they need their big-money players to step up and produce, otherwise itâ€™s going to be a long year.