The Knicks have the talent to be elite, but it boils down to one key ingredient

The New York Knicks are coming off a hard-fought win against a depleted Philadelphia 76ers team, however, it should’ve been a more comfortable game. Philadelphia was without Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid, their top two players. The Knicks lost Nerlens Noel about halfway through the game due to a right knee injury and was already without Mitchell Robinson dealing with a hip flexor issue.

Despite losing a few big men, the Knicks had the majority of their team healthy, winning by seven points in the end. Power forward Julius Randle led the way for his team, scoring 31 points, 12 rebounds, shooting 50% from deep. He was the catalyst in the game, but his teammates did very little, otherwise, to help contribute to the win. Aside from Immanuel Quickley, who posted 10 points on 75% shooting from three, the rest of the group shot poorly.

“Teams that are short-handed play incredibly hard,” Tom Thibodeau said after the Knicks’ hard-fought win over Philly on Monday night. “I thought we came out with a lot more intensity tonight. Our guys were flying around.”

One of the Knicks’ biggest struggles this season has been defense, which is partly been due to a lack of effort and hustle. Head coach Tom Thibodeau indicated that his team has a lot of growing to do, despite beating Philadelphia on Monday evening.

“We won today but there’s still a lot to work on,” he said. “It doesn’t mean we can feel too good about ourselves. We’re learning.”

The secret ingredient to winning with a team as talented as the Knicks is simply energy. Coming out with an edge and exerting maximum effort is the difference between winning and losing most times. Aggressive and intense defense is the Thibodeau way, but the Knicks have tried to match scoring efforts which can backfire when the opposition is knocking down 3’s at an unsustainable rate.

“The way the game started, the energy he provided. The way Julius closed the game was one big shot after the next,” Thibs proclaimed after the win.

It’s all about energy, having the extra gear to knock down shots, chase down a player in transition, be in the right place at the right time. These are all situations that ‘require’ elevated energy and focus.

Ultimately, Randle needs to be the leader, and one way he can do that is going 100% every game no matter the situation or score. His impact in the win over Philly proved that assessment.

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