The New York Knicks are for real after massive defensive changes

knicks, quentin grimes
Jan 15, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) defends against New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) during the fourth quarter at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Flashback to December 3rd. The New York Knicks just got embarrassed on their home floor by Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, losing by 21 after a disastrous third quarter.

The Madison Square Garden crowd booed their team in continuous waves that seemed to never end. The Knicks fell to 10-13 on the season, and Tom Thibodeau’s position as head coach seemed to be in peril.

Fast forward 21 games later, the Knicks are now 25-19, sixth in the Eastern Conference standings, a legitimate threat to the other powerhouse teams in the NBA, and do not seem to be showing signs of slowing down any time soon.

Their win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday marked their seventh victory in their last eight contests. The Knicks are proving to the world that they are for real.

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The Knicks are a completely different team now:

On that fateful early December afternoon, Cam Reddish and Derrick Rose were a part of the Knicks’ rotation. After that horrible loss, head coach Tom Thibodeau made major changes that saw defensive floor raiser Miles McBride enter the rotation and sharpshooter Quentin Grimes become the permanent starting shooting guard.

Since then, everything has changed. The Knicks are 15-6, and Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle are playing the best basketball of their entire careers, and both appear to be building very strong All-Star campaigns this season.

Grimes and McBride have also become massive catalysts to the Knicks’ overall cohesiveness as a unit, especially on the defensive end.

“I think that addition or the insertion more frequently of Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride has made a huge difference for their defense. And it’s sustainable. We’ve seen Tom Thibodeau have top-five defenses. He can build a good defense.”

JJ Redick

New York is now one of the most productive teams in the NBA on both sides of the ball. In their last 21 games, the Knicks have a 119.4 offensive rating, which is fourth best in the league. Their defensive rating in that stretch is sitting at 110.6, which is second-best in the NBA. Their 8.9 net rating in that span is also the second-best in the league.

Since losing that dreadful game against Dallas, the Knicks are now arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference and are, without a doubt, one of the strongest teams in the entire league. The Knicks have saved their season and catapulted themselves back into relevancy.

Led by their All-Star duo of Brunson and Randle, the Knicks look poised to finish the regular season strong and make serious noise in the postseason. Everything is clicking for them in every facet, and Thibodeau deserves a lot of credit for making the necessary adjustments to make this Knicks squad a legit contender.

The Knicks will look to continue their recent dominance when they take on the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on Monday afternoon.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_