Obi Toppin has been the Knicks‘ more productive rookie in the playoffs, while Immanuel Quickley is struggling to find his game, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Toppin is coming off a career-best 13-point outburst in Game 4, and there’s talk of playing him and Julius Randle together to help turn the series around.
“I just really feel like I’ve just been locked in, studying a lot of film, paying attention to every little detail possible that I need for each game,” Toppin said. “I feel like the more details I know on the defensive side, I feel like the offensive side will just come to me if I just play my basketball and play team basketball.”
As a lottery pick, Toppin was expected to be a difference maker right away, but Quickley, who was taken at No. 25, had the better regular season, averaging 11.4 points per game and becoming a regular part of the backcourt rotation. His shot has deserted him in the playoffs, as he’s hitting just 29.6% from the field and scoring 4.5 PPG.
“I love it when people count me out,” Quickley said. “I feel like that’s how my whole life in basketball has been, when people say you can’t do something or you’re not good enough or that’s not possible. I feel like that kind of drives our team as well. When we came into this season, everybody was expecting us to be in the lottery.”
There’s more on the Knicks:
- Derrick Rose will likely remain in the starting lineup for Game 5, but coach Tom Thibodeau sidestepped a question about playing Frank Ntilikina, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Ntilikina has only been used for three defensive possessions throughout the entire series. “I think Derrick is proven to be a very good player in this league for a long time,’’ Thibodeau said. “As a team we have to play better. We know that. In terms of Frank, he’s an important part of the team.”
- Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic examines the adjustments the Hawks have made to slow down Randle, who averaged 37.3 PPG against them in the regular season. Randle, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his career, has been forced to deal with two and sometimes three defenders every time he catches the ball.
- A fan accused of throwing a beer at the Knicks’ bench during Game 2 has been permanently banned from Madison Square Garden, Berman writes in a separate story.