Knicks defensive woes could cost coach Tom Thibodeau his job

Now that their necessary work is finished for the subsequent couple of months, maybe the gang at FiveThirtyEight may wish to compile a brand new set of polls in an try to find out Tom Thibodeau’s approval score amongst Knicks followers.

Actually, I can save them the difficulty.

Compared to Thibodeau, each politician you possibly can title — purple, blue, purple, any hue you select — is extra common than free ice cream. This is not to say Thibodeau is on the griddle simply but, as a result of followers — particularly Knicks followers — have discovered all through the years that they do not get a vote on this. The Knicks’ gerrymandering entails a constituency of 1, and James Dolan has but to point that he has Thibodeau in his cross-hairs.

That’s at present, anyway.

Tomorrow could be a special story. Or every week from Friday. Or by the point this seven-game crawl by a fiery, livid gauntlet ends. The Knicks start a five-game Western swing in Salt Lake City on Tuesday evening, and at this second the Knicks and the Jazz have precisely one factor in frequent: neither employs Donovan Mitchell.

The Jazz have received 10 of their first 15 video games and have found life after Mitchell (and Rudy Gobert, and Quin Snyder) to be each bit as affluent because it was with them. The Knicks’ solely opulence is of their spirit of generosity: any group that performs them is welcome to hoist as many unguarded 3-pointers (and a good quantity of wide-open 2s, too) as they need, freed from cost.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

It is inconceivable to imagine that Thibodeau — who preaches protection first, final and all the time — might be something aside from incensed on the 145-point no-show his group turned in towards the Thunder on Sunday afternoon. But, then, it’s inconceivable to imagine that Thibodeau has not but been ready to determine a method to repair this. This is not a small pattern measurement. This is happening 95 video games now, to the start of final season.

It is unfaithful that the final Knick to efficiently contest a shot was Dave DeBusschere getting in Gus Johnson’s method.

It simply feels that method.

“We need to take a tough take a look at it and consider every thing to seek out out what’s our greatest likelihood at being profitable,” Thibodeau mentioned, verbally greedy at straws after the Thunder thrashing Sunday. “We’re able to doing higher and have proven instances the place we have guarded extraordinarily nicely. What I’m involved with is the up and down of the final 4 video games.”

That is the nicest method potential to say what Thibodeau would absolutely say if he sprinkled just a little fact serum into his Wheaties: “We play protection like we do not give a [darn/damn/pick your escalating expletive of choice].”

Because that is positive what it seems like.

Nobody is anticipating the Knicks to get up and magically remodel into the 2004 Pistons — and even the ’94 Knicks, for that matter — and immediately change into fearsome defenders.

New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau greets ahead Julius Randle throughout the third quarter.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

But it should not be an excessive amount of to ask that they often get a hand within the face of a shooter. The Thunder recreation was the worst excessive, however you possibly can choose any of a litter of current video games — at Brooklyn, residence to the Hawks, residence to the Celtics — the place it positive regarded like the opposite guys have been having fun with a breezy recreation of around-the -world and never enjoying by NBA guidelines.

Which, for the document, lets you guard individuals if you would like.

And “need” is the important thing phrase right here: the Knicks and their coach can insist that they are surely giving effort however the eyes inform a special story and, extra tellingly, the outcomes do, too. Right now, you possibly can predict the end result of a Knicks recreation utilizing two simple steps:

1. Is the opponent splashing the open 3s? Then the Knicks haven’t any likelihood.

2. Are they lacking them? Now we will discuss.

It’s not presupposed to be that method. It’s simply not.

“The protection and rebounding, that effort must be counted on each evening,” Thibodeau mentioned. “Our gamers are too good to provide that sort of confidence away.”

And the coach is simply too good — or has too sturdy a status, anyway — to permit that to proceed. Nobody will ever have the ability to take away Thibs’ maiden voyage two years in the past. But when the Hawks ended that run with a gentleman’s sweep 18 months in the past, they apparently additionally stole Thibodeau’s mojo, too.

The Knicks have not heard a factor he is mentioned since. It’s 95 tone-deaf video games now, and the Knicks are 43-52, 6-7 this 12 months, and if they do not have a collection of epiphanies quickly that document could simply be 7-13 or 6-14 by the point they ‘re accomplished visiting Salt Lake City, Denver, San Francisco, Phoenix and Oklahoma City, with a welcome-home two-step of the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies besides.

And then the griddle might be scorching. And perhaps too sizzling for Thibodeau to outlive it.

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