With the loss to Atlanta on Tuesday, the Knicks dropped six games out of 10the place in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play. Therefore, your chances of participating in the Play-In tournament are only as high as your chances of winning the 2022 NBA Draft lottery.
If the Knicks win eight of their last 10 games, they would still need the Hawks to be 2-8 the rest of the way to make it to the opening Tournament.
When a team has no chance of making the playoffs, the organization has an opportunity to prioritize developing younger players over winning games.
Based on what you saw Tuesday, the Knicks haven’t made that decision yet.
2nd year forward Obi Toppin he did not play in the fourth quarter against Atlanta. Veteran Taj Gibson he was on the ground for the last 12 minutes.
Toppin committed five fouls, but tom thibodeauThe decision to put Gibson in Toppin’s place was based, in part, on giving the Knicks the best opportunity to get stops.
The coach cited defensive rotation, pick-and-roll changeup and basket protection when asked about playing Gibson in the fourth.
Later, a reporter asked a follow-up question about closing the game with Gibson.
“It really was the way the game flowed. That group that started the fourth, had a very good run. And then Taj, it’s his experience, his defense and also the confrontation with (Danilo) Gallinari it is something that concerns you.
“So those were the reasons, and obviously he had all five fouls. We get to that point five minutes from the end, where you’re like, ‘Okay, who are we closing with? I went with the group that was there, so basically that was it. But I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in that situation either.”
The Gibson/Toppin decision is one of dozens of decisions Thibodeau made during Tuesday’s game. Obviously, many of those decisions produced positive results for the home team. New York had a five-point lead with 4:26 left.
But the Hawks outscored the Knicks by 13 in the next 3:30. New York went 1-4 in that span with three turnovers. IF Toppin is on the court, are the results different?
Should the results matter?
Is it more important to give Toppin a chance to work through mistakes and learn on the job at this point in the season?
The Knicks, as an organization, don’t think so. Whether they are right or wrong depends on your perspective.
For the Knicks fan frustrated by the playing time of young Knicks like Toppin, Miles McBride or reddish camhere are some factors Thibodeau considers when making rotation/minute decisions:
“Practice first. You have to practice well first. So if you play one minute, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, you have to play well when you’re on the court,” the coach said on Sunday. “The unit has to play well. So it’s not a particular play. You can make a big play: If you have a big play and nine plays that hurt the team, that doesn’t help the team.
“This is how the team works. You are doing your job. It’s understanding what your job is, understanding every detail of every team, every scheme and how you fit into the team and play to win. Sacrifice your game for the team. All those things go into it.”