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Knicks Are The Most Resilient Team In Recent Memory

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Highlights

  • The Knicks have overcome adversity with heart, toughness, and depth all season long.
  • Tom Thibodeau’s squad embodies his gritty, hard-working style of play.
  • Knicks’ depth players have stepped up, showing resilience in the face of injuries.


The 2023-24 New York Knicks have been dealt a bad hand. Injuries and tough breaks have attempted to ruin what has been the best season for the franchise in over two decades, but Tom Thibodeau’s group has responded emphatically to every challenge that has been thrown their way. Their dominant Game 5 victory over the Indiana Pacers exemplified the heart and toughness that embodies this group.

After losing OG Anunoby in the middle of Game 2 vs. Indiana, it seemed that the Knicks had finally run out of quality rotation players needed to compete in a playoff environment. When the Pacers won Game 3 and then blew the tired-looking Knicks off the floor in Game 4 to even the series, basketball fans thought the team may have finally run out of gas.

Despite narratives flying around about Thibodeau playing his best guys too many minutes and running them into the ground, New York needed to step up in what was essentially a must-win Game 5 at MSG. Once more, Knicks fans would ask their team to bounce back and show their grit by stealing a game without four of their top eight players.


They exceeded expectations yet again.


Knicks Keep Bouncing Back

New York is still standing despite being knocked down repeatedly

Coming into the season, the Knicks expected to be a good team that would probably be stuck in the middle of the Eastern Conference because of the potential of squads like the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Cleveland Cavaliers. This held true for the first two months, as the Knicks struggled to break free from mediocrity over the first 32 games, holding a record of just 17-15.

However, after trading their homegrown studs in RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley for OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, New York turned into a juggernaut on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the bad luck would start after a 12-2 stretch post-trade when Julius Randle dislocated his shoulder late in a blowout win over the Miami Heat. The Knicks wouldn’t know it at the time, but they had lost their second-best player for the year.


On the same day, Anunoby left the lineup because of elbow soreness and would miss 27 of the next 30 games. Somehow, the Knicks responded by tapping into their depth and posted a 16-14 record without their second and third-best players. This allowed Anunoby to return at the end of the season to secure their first 50-win season since 2012-13, and grab the second seed in the East.

Knicks Missing In Action

Player

PPG

MPG

Missed GP

Randle

24.0

35.4

36

Anunoby

15.1

33.3

32

Robinson

5.6

24.8

51

New York caught another set of bad breaks entering the playoffs, as they drew the 76ers in the first-round due to Joel Embiid missing the second half of the season, which tanked their seed. Philadelphia was 31-8 with Embiid in the lineup, making this a difficult matchup, but the Knicks handled their business and closed them out in six games.


Even this series victory came with adversity when New York fumbled away a series-clinching Game 5 at home, leading by six points with 30 seconds left only to see Tyrese Maxey play superhero and rip out the Knicks’ hearts.

Next Man Up Mentality

Thibodeau has instilled a culture of depth and hard work in NYC

Deuce McBride New York Knicks

The Knicks entered the year boasting one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, with Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Deuce McBride, Immanuel Quickley and Isaiah Hartenstein coming off the bench to complete the deepest ten-man rotation in the league. A healthy first-half of basketball turned this depth into an issue when several players were slotted in roles too small for their talent, but things changed quickly.


After the Anunoby trade sent away two of the Knicks’ top scoring options, Deuce McBride was thrust into a much bigger role than ever before. Not only did he respond to the increased minutes defensively, he turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter (41.0% from three) and showed some shot-creation abilities.

Additionally, Mitchell Robinson was only able to play 31 games because of continued ankle injuries, and Isaiah Hartenstein stepped up in a huge way to become the Knicks’ starting center. Hartenstein provided dominant rim protection and rebounding while also being an offensive hub for New York to run actions through, earning himself a massive payday this off-season.

The injury adversity wouldn’t stop in the regular season, however. As of Game 6 of the second-round, New York lost Anunoby and Robinson again, as well as Bojan Bogdanović. These injuries forced the Knicks down to five healthy rotation players, requiring Precious Achiuwa and Alec Burks to step in and play major minutes, which they have excelled in.


New York Knicks – Depth Player Stats

Player

PPG

Playoff PPG

MPG

Playoff MPG

Hart

9.4

43.6

33.4

15.8

DiVincenzo

15.5

15.9

29.1

35.0

Hartenstein

7.8

9.6

25.3

29.5

McBride

8.3

10.5

19.5

24.7

Burks

6.5

17.3

13.5

22.3

Achiuwa

7.6

4.4

24.2

18.7

The injuries also have caused Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo to play absurd minutes every night and step into offensive roles they’ve never done before. Both have given New York several huge scoring performances in these playoffs while also playing aggressive defense and hitting the glass.

Knicks Embody Thibodeau Identity

Tom Thibodeau has the team playing a gritty, tough style of basketball

Tom Thibodeau New York Knicks


Thibodeau’s team is a reflection of their coach: they play with unrelenting energy and aggression for 48 minutes a night, every night, no matter the circumstances. This mentality has allowed the Knicks to overcome their personnel limitations throughout most of the season to be one win away from a Conference Finals despite catastrophic injury.

New York ranked top-five in rebounding and offensive rebounding in the regular season while being the league’s ninth-best defense. The defensive numbers even shortchange the Knicks, as they’ve been a top-three defense with Anunoby in the lineup.

The biggest X-factor for the Knicks in this playoff run has been their incredible offensive rebounding, which ranks first among postseason teams by a wide margin. Josh Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein have grabbed 6.6 offensive boards per game, close to what an entire team would average.


Knicks’ Heart and Hustle Stats

Category

Stat

NBA Rank

DRTG

112.4

9th

OREB/G

12.7

1st

REB/G

45.2

5th

OREB/G Playoffs

13.7

1st

REB/G Playoffs

44.9

4th

BPG Playoffs

5.7

4th

New York’s consistent energy, effort, physicality, and toughness has been the main reason for their success all season long, and could be what puts them over the top in future seasons.

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