Knicks guard Austin Rivers shined light on the importance of having available players this season, particularly as the league continues to navigate through a pandemic.
New York has mostly received good luck with COVID-19, while several teams (including the Heat and Celtics, who saw their game be postponed on Sunday) are unable to say the same. It’s a major reason why the team has a 5-4 record through the first nine contests of the season.
“The number one skill is availability,” Rivers said, as relayed by Steve Popper of Newsday. “If we can remain doing the things that we’re supposed to do — a lot of it has to do with just bad luck and good luck in terms of getting it. Some guys aren’t taking all the precautions. It’s a crazy thing. Some people touch something and end up getting it.
“With that being aside, if we do our job and we remain available, it gives us a chance to win every night and it gives us an advantage because you see a lot of teams having star players [out]. Just saw Tatum today with Boston go down. You get to see some of these teams missing some of their guys and if we’re fully loaded, it just gives us another advantage. So we’ve got to try to do our part.”
There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:
- Nets superstar Kevin Durant (health and safety protocols) will be available to play today against the Thunder, the team announced on social media. Star guard Kyrie Irving will miss another game due to personal reasons. A Nets win would give them a 6-5 record, while Oklahoma City is seeking its third straight victory.
- Celtics center Tacko Fall has shown the team he’s ready for an increased role, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Fall, 25, finished with four points, eight rebounds and three blocks off the bench in the team’s victory against Washington on Friday, logging 19 minutes. “Tacko’s gotten better since the first day that he got here,” teammate Jaylen Brown said. “He’s gotten better. His body has improved. His timing has improved. And he’s ready, as you’ve seen today. He came out, had a great game for us, defended, protected the rim, did everything we asked for, and that was just his first game. I think it’s only going to get better the more opportunity he gets.”
- The Knicks have hired Nick Restifo to manage coaching analytics, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). Restifo worked with head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota as a basketball operations assistant, Vorkunov notes.