The New York Knicks head into another competitive game against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday evening. The Nuggets have won three of their last four games, scoring no less than 115 points. They are an offensive powerhouse at the moment, with their primary scores being Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr.
While the Knicks have been solid this season, their defense is inconsistent. They are an aggressive basketball team under Tom Thibodeau, but they are still finding their sea legs as they piece together their starting five. They have won five of their last seven games, but their most recent loss to the Oklahoma Thunder was a bit disappointing.
In the loss, NY allowed 101 points and didn’t see any of their players breach 20 points. While Julius Randle averages a double-double per game, he only recorded 18 points and struggled at times. They simply need more production from their bench, as the starters are incapable of pushing carrying the load.
One player who understands the significance of Sunday’s game is Austin Rivers was made a positive impact so far this season.
“Tomorrow’s a big game, man,” Austin Rivers said Saturday’s practice. “Just for the fact that we have a back-to-back and we head to Charlotte right after the game. We dropped a game that we felt like we should have won [Friday]. Going into the game, we felt like that’s a team that we should beat. So when you mess up like that, when you mess with the game, the game pays you back. You gotta get back on track.”
It is clear that the Knicks are capable of winning tough matchups, but they have to do it more consistently so they can bounce back from losses.
Head coach Tom Thibideau re-affirmed that the New York Knicks are still a work in progress:
“We’re a work in progress. We’re striving to be a 48-minute team. If we don’t play hard and with great intensity and share the ball and play unselfishly, it’s going to be tough. I like the resiliency of the team. We gotta have that fight every night. Some nights we may fall short, but we gotta learn from it and get ready for the next day.”
I believe that the Knicks will continuously improve as the 2021 season moves onward. Thibodeau has clearly made an early impact on these players and their desire to win. As they continue to learn his system, growth is expected.