The Knicks are playing a dangerous game with their unit rotations in-game

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

The New York Knicks have many positive qualities to utilize in their quest to win the first series of the postseason, a reality nobody expected them to reach after a tumultuous 2020 campaign. Thanks to Julius Randle and a perfect combination of complementary pieces, the Knicks have found themselves winning routinely, breaching the 40-win mark for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

New head coach Tom Thibodeau has pieced together a team based on a few key mentalities: Aggressive defense, reliance on testing variations of player combination, and the grit of Julius Randle.

The rotation of unit groupings has proved to be a successful strategy for Thibs, but it could be a factor that bites the Knicks in the butt once the post-season commences. It’s clear that PG Elfrid Payton has a negative impact on the team compared to the likes of Derrick Rose and even Alec Burks, but they continue to start him.

In the victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday afternoon, the Knicks made a few in-game rotations to try and spark an offensive burst, and Thibs continues to rely on his feel for the game.

“It was the way the game was unfolding,’’ Thibodeau said. “We started off the third quarter really well. And then we hit a lull. We found a group who could go. That group ended up going well. So we stayed with them longer. They’re fine and will be ready to go [Sunday].’’

Don’t fix what’s not broken is what I’d say to people who doubt the Knicks’ approach, but there is a benefit to having a bonafide unit that can be relied on in big moments. Substituting players in an out based on their inconsistencies is a recipe for disaster since all it takes is one night for your key players to be off for the team to unravel.

“Our goal is to win,’’ Thibodeau said. “So whoever gives us the best chance to win, that’s who’s going to be on the floor. Derrick’s behind it.’’

Nonetheless, Thibs has done a stellar job maximizing the talent they currently have on the roster, and to be quite frank, his success should be rewarded with the “Coach of the Year” award.

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