Despite doubts around All-Star Julius Randle’s availability for Game 1 on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley says the “vibes are really good” at practice ahead of the playoffs.
For Quickley, basketball is a game that is “70 percent mental,” and this week of preparation has a big-time off-the-court component.
“Just really trying to prepare your mind and visualize what it’s gonna be like and take that visualization into your workouts… so you can be ready to play at a high level,” he said.
And the step-up in intensity – both visualized and actualized – isn’t something the Knicks’ guard is concerned about.
“I love big games,” he said. “I love when the stakes are the highest. I think our team embodies that, as far as what we’ve been through all year and what we’ve done throughout the year. I think we enjoy big games, we like the bright lights.”
And it helps that Quickley has some playoff experience to lean on, “It’s just a lot of fun to be in.”
“Some of our guys got a taste of it two years ago,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think all of that helps, but once the ball goes up, that’s all out the window. So, just be ready to go.”
Quickley’s sum total of playoff experience is just 77 minutes over five games in 2021 against the Atlanta Hawks when he averaged 5.8 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists while shooting 30.3 percent from the floor on 6.6 shots. But who Quickley was his rookie season can’t really be compared to the player from this year, when he shot 44.8 percent from the floor on 11.6 shots in the regular season.
“There’s that old saying, ‘If you don’t have experience, how do you get it?’ Well, obviously you gotta start somewhere,” Thibodeau added on Wednesday.
Josh Hart, who Thibs said Wednesday has “fit like a glove and been great for us” since he arrived in a trade deadline deal with Portland, is one of the Knicks players without postseason experience.
“Extremely excited,” Hart said about the playoffs. “I wish Saturday was coming a little sooner. Just super excited with the guys that we have in the locker room with the coaching staff, the front office. We have a great group of men here.”
But the six-year NBA veteran says he isn’t “looking for too much advice” from teammates about the difference a playoff atmosphere brings.
“People can talk about it until they’re blue in the face,” Hart said. “But, for me, I’m not really gonna [know] how I’ll act until I’m in it. And I think that’s the biggest thing.”
He added: “I’m ready to just go in it, and I know my mentality and my style of play. I trust myself.”
The preparation has been a “little bit more intense,” but Hart said that’s “a good thing.”
“Myself, I’m locked in,” he said. “It’s locked in on one opponent… right now we know who we have and I’m locked in on that.”
Source: Yahoo Sports