Saturday, February 24 2024

In a surprise move, the Knicks started Donte DiVincenzo on Friday night against the Boston Celtics in place of third-year guard Quentin Grimes.

Grimes, who has started every game he’s been healthy this season, was in the middle of an offensive swoon while DiVincenzo was one of the team’s hottest shooters. So it seemed inevitable after the team’s In-Season Tournament loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, where Grimes attempted one shot and didn’t play the entire fourth quarter.

The timing of the lineup change also came just days after Grimes voiced his frustration with his role in the offense, but when asked how before the game of the move, the Texas native took it in stride.

“He kind of let me know to try to get me a better rhythm, get me in a better flow, try to get me how I was playing last year,” Grimes said of the conversation with Thibodeau, via Newsday. “He felt like it was the best thing to do and I agree with him. It’s a good thing, I’m going to do whatever he needs me to do, really.”

So how did it pay off? Well, the Knicks lost to the Celtics 133-123 in what was more of a lop-sided game than the final score would indicate, but moving Grimes to the second unit seemingly helped the young guard out of his shooting funk.

He finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting (3-of-7 from three) with two assists and one rebound after 19:23 on the floor.

Grimes’ 13 points is the most he’s scored in his last four games…combined. It’s also the second most he’s scored all season (he scored 17 against the Bucks on Nov. 3).

The 23-year-old seemed confident, chucking up just about as many shots as he’s done in five games, and saw time with a variety of different lineups. He was excelling with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle on the floor, who could dominate the ball through the course of the game.

But a stretch that made Thibodeau happy was in the fourth quarter. With Grimes, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Isaiah Hartenstein and Josh Hart on the floor, the Knicks would chip away at the Celtics’ lead, getting it down to seven points. Although the comeback was not completed, Grimes proved, at least for one game, that his presence in the second unit was beneficial.

After the game, Thibodeau praised the second unit for helping them get back in the game.

“I thought our bench played well, really well,” Thibodeau said. “That group played well. Quentin played well, I thought Josh really did a good job for us. Quick was real good. Isaiah was terrific. That’s why we finished the way we did.”

On the other side of the coin, DiVincenzo finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting (2-of-5 from three), four rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes. He was also on the floor with the closing unit.

While his numbers don’t jump off the page, the first-year Knick will need to get acclimated to the unit he’s on.

Similar to how Thibodeau shortened the bench last season, this change, which could be temporary, will need some games to see if it’s a viable option moving forward. But with the Knicks at 12-9, and a measly 2-9 record against teams with winning records after Friday’s loss, the players will have to figure it out quickly.

They’ll have a couple of days to do so. The Knicks host the Toronto Raptors (9-13) on Monday before going on a five-game road trip, four against teams with winning records.

So applaud the Knicks and Grimes for making the most out of the change, but fans should have a wait-and-see approach for now.

Source: Yahoo Sports

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