Not only Tom Thibodeau’s job is on the line this season.
The entire New York Knicks are reportedly under heightened scrutiny after a slow start, with Wednesday night’s tough 109-103 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks dropping them to 10-12 and a woeful 4-6 record at home.
They have lost their last four home games.
Only the Eastern Conference’s bottom three teams — Charlotte Hornets (3-6), Orlando Magic (4-8) and Detroit Pistons (3-7) have worst home records than the Knicks.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the scrutiny was raised after their disheartening 145-135 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder more than two weeks ago.
The Knicks have gone 4-5 since that debacle, including a 3-2 winning record on a daunting West Coast trip. But the good vibes left once they landed in New York, losing to a Damian Lillard-less Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies in back-to-back heartbreaking fashion.
Entering the third year of the Leon Rose and Thibodeau partnership, the Knicks are expected to be better than last season with the point guard upgrade.
Jalen Brunson is playing well as advertised, but often came up short against the elite teams.
After muffing potential game-winners against the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies, Brunson, a 90-percent free throw shooter, uncharacteristically missed three free throws against the Bucks, including a crucial one that could have given the Knicks the lead with 47.6 seconds left.
Perhaps Brunson is playing through pain after he limped out to the locker room with a sprained ankle after the first possession but soldiered on to finish the game.
The regression of their young players, notably RJ Barrett, has also been tough to watch, especially after losing out on Donovan Mitchell’s sweepstakes.
Barrett had one of his better games against the Bucks Wednesday night, tallying 26 points on 8 of 15 shooting and a 50 percent trip from deep. But he missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 12.9 seconds left, crushing their chance to steal the win.
“I thought we got some good shots we didn’t make. But I like the way we competed. I thought we did a lot of good things.”Tom Thibodeau postgame via MSG Network
The Knicks have played one of their best weeks of basketball but still couldn’t get over the hump. Instead, they were left with moral victories. And it will only get harder from here to chalk up actual wins.
New York has the 10th strongest schedule left, with their future opponents having a combined .507 winning percentage per Tankathon.
The Knicks’ next three games are against playoff contenders with bona fide All-Stars — Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers on back-to-back nights this weekend, followed by Trae Young-Dejoute Murray tandem and the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.
So the clock is ticking for this embattled Knicks team.
If this season continues to spiral, Rose will ultimately be judged by the moves he didn’t make.
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