Flashback to December 3rd, when the New York Knicks got embarrassed on their home floor by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. The Madison Square Garden crowd was booing their team for virtually the entire second half. Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose were a part of that game’s rotation.
After that horrific game, Knicks head coach Thibodeau completely shook the rotation up, electing to shrink the rotation to nine men, including second-year defensive guru Miles McBride and excluding Rose and Reddish.
Since then, things have been completely different in the realm of Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks. They have not lost since that dreadful defeat against Dallas and continued their new brand of smash-mouth basketball with their sixth consecutive victory in a 114-91 cleansing of the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
They have improved to 16-13 on the season, their most amount of games above .500 all season, and have jumped up to sixth in the Eastern Conference standings.
It appeared that a rotation change was all that the Knicks needed, and a lot of credit is owed to Thibodeau for finding a rotation that has worked masterfully.
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After being on the hot seat, Thibodeau has regained lots of respect in Knicks world:
At a handful of instances through the early parts of the season, Thibodeau’s job security was in peril, as the Knicks were playing, at best mediocre basketball, and seemed to struggle to truly compete against the cream of the crop in the East.
Now, they are winning against the league’s most competitive teams, having beaten the Cavaliers, Hawks, Kings, and Bulls twice. The Hawks and Bulls were both playoff teams last season. Thibodeau’s job security is becoming tighter with each win.
This majestic winning streak has featured one of Thibodeau’s key components: defense. The Knicks have held their opponents to under 100 points in four of the six games in the streak. Prior to the winning streak, the Knicks had allowed at least 100 points to their opponents in every game.
On Opening Night, Evan Fournier was the starting shooting guard. Now, it is second-year two-way guard Quentin Grimes, and he has dazzled in his starting role.
On Friday against the Bulls, Grimes scored 22 points and shot 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, and had a plus/minus of +21, further displaying the high impact he provides on both ends of the floor.
This stretch of games has also gotten the best out of Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, who have been having themselves a remarkable December, and have also formed a big three with forward RJ Barrett.
The trio combined for 68 points and 11 3PM on Friday’s win over the Bulls. The changes Thibodeau has made has contributed to nearly everybody in the Knicks’ rotation playing at the best of their games.
With the Knicks being one of the hottest teams in the East, Tom Thibodeau insisted after Friday’s victory that New York will not be taking its foot off the gas anytime soon.
“I’m not taking the cheese”, Thibodeau stated. “When you starting feeling good about yourself, then you get knocked on your butt.”Tom Thibodeau via Fred Katz on Twitter
Thibodeau and the Knicks will look to continue their hot stretch when they take on the Indiana Pacers on Sunday evening.
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