With the loss to Atlanta on Tuesday, the Knicks fell six games out of 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play. So their chances of making the Play-In Tournament are as high as their odds to win the 2022 NBA Draft lottery.
If the Knicks win eight of their final 10 games, they’d still need the Hawks to go 2-8 the rest of the way to make the Play-In Tournament.
When a team has no shot to make the playoffs, the organization has an opportunity to prioritize the development of younger players ahead of winning games.
Based on what you saw on Tuesday, the Knicks haven’t made that decision yet.
Toppin had five fouls, but Tom Thibodeau’s decision to play Gibson over Toppin was based, in part, on giving the Knicks the best opportunity to get stops.
The coach cited defensive rotation, switching on pick and rolls and protecting the basket when he was asked about playing Gibson in the fourth.
Later, a reporter asked a follow-up question about closing the game with Gibson.
“It was really the way the game was flowing. That group that started the fourth, had a pretty good run going. And then Taj, it’s his experience, his defense, and also the matchup with (Danilo) Gallinari is something you’re concerned about.
“So those were the reasons, and he obviously had the five fouls. We got to that point five minutes to go, where you go, ‘Okay, who are we closing with? I went with the group that was in there, so that was basically it. But I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in, in that situation, either.”
The Gibson/Toppin decision is one of dozens of decisions Thibodeau made throughout 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 to play.
But the Hawks outscored the Knicks by 13 in the next 3:30. New York went 1-for-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 the opportunity to play through mistakes and learn on the job at this point in the season?
The Knicks, as an organization, don’t think it is. Whether they are right or wrong depends on your perspective.
“Practice first. You have to practice well first. Then if you play one minute, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, you got to play well when you’re on the floor,” the coach said on Sunday. “The unit has to play well. So it’s not one particular play. You can make one great play – if you have one great play and you have nine plays that are hurting the team, that’s not helping the team.
“So it’s how the team functions. You doing your job. It’s understanding what your job is, understanding all the details of every team, every scheme is, and how you fit into the team and play to win. Sacrifice your game for the team. All those things go into it.”
Source: Yahoo Sports