New York Knicks: Tom Thibodeau provides solution to latest struggles

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
Dec 31, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts against the Toronto Raptors during the first quarter at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few days ago, we were talking about how the New York Knicks ahead won five of six games. Now they’re on a four-game winning streak, and there’s no end in sight.

With a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers coming up on Friday evening, this could be their best chance to snap the losing streak. Cleveland is also 5-7 and has lost five of their last six games, indicating a solid chance for the Knicks to rebound and put a win in the right column.

However, the past few games have been tumultuous, as they have allowed more than 100 points in each and scored 89 points or less in three of the four.

Most recently, against the Brooklyn Nets, they lost 116-109 but found themselves in a 19 point hole in the third quarter, which they crawled back from, but it was too little, too late.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau has clearly been frustrated with the way his team has played, lacking aggression and defensive prowess.

“Disappointed that we could have played better, defensively, yes, but more determined to get it right,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s 116-109 loss to the Nets at the Garden. “We have to get back to practicing. I like the fight we showed at the end, but it was too late. We got in too big of a hole.

Ultimately, practice is the only thing that can help the team develop chemistry and more continuity with one another. They are still an extremely new combination of players and one that Thibodeau still hasn’t found a correct sequence for.

“We have to get back to work. Sometimes you go through stretches where you don’t have an opportunity to practice too much, so I think practice would be good for us.”

Thibodeau’s scheme heavily relies on defense, but the Knicks haven’t had a successful defensive performance since the fourth game of the season, when they beat the Cavaliers, coincidentally, 95-86.

“We worked on our defense for a while and then covered some offensive things we wanted to work on,” Thibodeau said. “The main thing was trying to get up and down and practice out of the full court. I felt we needed work in that area, as well.

“I think the big challenge is when you have a number of areas that you’d like to shore up you have to prioritize. You can’t work on all of them every day. So you pick three or four things that you’d like to get into and improve upon and that’s what we did.”

Despite the Knicks’ lackluster performances the past few days, young rookie Immanuel Quickley has been a bright spot for the team. In the loss to Brooklyn, he played in 22 minutes, scoring 19 points. He shot 7-of-15 from the field and connected on 3-of-6 from three-point land.

Quickley only turned the ball over one time, which is solid considering the number of possessions he controlled. The Knicks do have some positive signs, but they just need more continuity within the starting five.