The New York Knicks have battled adversity since the start of the 2021 season, with injuries and the lack of preseason contests hurting their chemistry and development. However, after losing the first two games of the year against the Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers, they have won four of their last five. The latest victory came against the Atlanta Hawks, by a score of 113-108.
So far this year, head coach Tom Thibodeau has implemented a defensive style of play, but the Knicks have scored a sufficient amount in most contests. After seven games, theyâ€™ve reached 100 points in five of them, thanks to stellar performances by RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.
Against the Hawks, Randle secured 28 points, hitting on 11 of 19 shots. Barrett was eerily similar, earning 26 and 10 of 19 from the field. The Knicks’ three-point shooting was a bit lackluster, settling in at 33.3%, but the bench contributed the most in a category, hitting on 6 of 9 shots.
At one point in the game, the Knicks were down as much as 14, clawing their way back and eventually securing the win late in the fourth quarter as the Hawks tempted their fate. Atlanta is no walk in the park, after winning three straight games to open the year, they have lost three of the last four.
However, there has been a defining moment in each victory for New York, and Thibodeau describes it perfectly.
â€œWe didnâ€™t play great but we found a way to win,â€ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. â€œI love the fight in the team.â€
The one word I want to focus on here is “fight.”
The defensive aggression and desire to go to the basket has been a stand out factor for this new Knicks team. Their tenacity when rebounding has led to plenty of production from players like Randle, as both him and Barrett secured a double-double in the contest.
Even rookie guard Immanuel Quickley stated after the game that people should be looking out for the New York Knicks this year, as they feel they can do something special. Thanks to Thibodeau, who has implemented a win-now approach and disregarded player development as weâ€™ve normally seen it. He sees winning as the best form of progression, and he was spot on about that.
â€œTheyâ€™re playing for each other. Theyâ€™re tied together. Their willingness to share is huge.â€