The Knicks face 2 polarizing options as they lose composure at pinnacle of season

new york knicks, julius randle
May 7, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) reacts against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are crumbling at the worst possible time as they look to close out the 2021 season on a high note. Still sitting in the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference, New York has dropped their last two games to the Denver Nuggets and Phoenix Suns, but their latest defeat was a complete demise of work ethic and expectations.

The Knicks have been competitive against all levels of teams this season, but what happened against Phoenix was unprecedented and, quite frankly, unexpected. New York allowed 128 points, allowing Phoenix to take a significant lead in the fourth quarter.

The contest had flares of energy and hostility, as center, Taj Gibson targeted Chris Paul at one point, providing a healthy body check that sent Paul sprawling to the floor. This was a major sign of frustration for a team that gave up a seven-point lead in the third quarter, being outscored in the 38-17.

In the loss, the starting five for the Knicks struggled in various categories. While All-Star Julius Randle record 24 points and 11 rebounds, it was clear that the team missed Alec Berks and Immanuel Quickley, who offer offense and the ability to end a scoring streak for their opponents.

Tom Thibodeau and his squad allowed seven players from Phoenix to reach double-digit points, with DeAndre Ayton leading the team with 26 and Paul contributing 17 over 30 minutes. It was a display of depth and starting talent — the Knicks now realize the challenge they are up against once they reach the postseason.

Just to hold their ground in the middle of the playoff standings, they need to walk away with a win against the Clippers or Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers may offer the best opportunity, with LeBron James dealing with an ankle injury.

Nonetheless, the Knicks have to make a decision, and that is to remain resilient and aggressive with her mentality or crumble under the pressure of facing quality teams on a tough road trip. Ultimately, this is a challenge they will have to face mentally and physically in the postseason, so they have to push through and extract wins in the coming days.