The defensive-minded Knicks that were a surprise No. 4 seed in the East last season have been transformed, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Coach Tom Thibodeau’s team has a combined 259 points in its first two games and leads the NBA with 41 made three-pointers.
Thibodeau urged his players to commit to the three-point shot over the offseason, but some of the Knicks’ transformation has occurred out of necessity. The team is short-handed in the middle with Nerlens Noel dealing with a hamstring issue and Taj Gibson on paternity leave, so Thibodeau will have to decide whether to continue the new approach once they return.
“What we’re seeing in the NBA today is the premium that’s put on shooting,’’ he said. “Oftentimes, there’s at least four 3-point shooters on the floor. Now we’re seeing that there’s five. One of the things why I think we’re effective when Julius (Randle) is at the five and Obi (Toppin) is at the four is because the floor is opened up and now we have driving gaps where we can get to the basket. The great value in our team is the versatility.’’
There’s more from New York:
- Immanuel Quickley understands that he needs to keep his offensive game sharp to stay in the Knicks‘ rotation, per Steve Popper of Newsday. Quickley got an opportunity as a rookie because New York needed scoring punch, but after signing Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier and drafting two guards, the team has a lot more options for backcourt scoring.
- The Nets are “clearly sitting tight” in regard to a Kyrie Irving trade, a Western Conference executive tells basketball writer Jordan Schultz (Twitter link). Schultz doesn’t expect a deal for Irving to happen until much later in the season, if at all.
- Nets coach Steve Nash is tinkering with lineups as the team gets used to playing without Irving, according to Tim Bontemps and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Brooklyn is already dealing with a revamped roster that features 10 players who weren’t with the team at the end of last season. “It is not just the new pieces, it’s the void that we are used to playing with,” Nash said. “It is a lot for us to take on at this moment in time. But hopefully in the weeks coming, we start to clear some of the debris so to speak and figure out how we can best play together.”