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4 things to watch as Knicks aim to reach playoffs in second half of NBA season

RJ Barrett snatches a rebound wearing white jersey
RJ Barrett snatches a rebound sporting white jersey

After a robust first half, the Knicks are trending towards making the playoffs for the primary time in seven years. But it surely’s going to be an uphill climb.

In accordance with a FiveThirtyEight metric, the Knicks have one of the tough schedules within the league for the remainder of the season. New York’s power of schedule is ranked third total by the web site.

So New York (19-18) can be examined commonly over the subsequent two months.

Tom Thibodeau’s group has proven resilience up to now. And so they’ll must depend on that once more all through the second half to make the postseason.

Under are a couple of developments/points to control within the second half of the season:

BARRETT’S ASCENSION

RJ Barrett shot 59 p.c from past the arc within the final 9 video games of the primary half of the 12 months. Nobody would anticipate Barrett to keep up that tempo, however his enchancment from past the arc is an efficient growth for New York.

Thibodeau says Barrett’s additional work has paid dividends.

“He is available in each night time. Put loads of effort into it. He units up the gun proper in entrance of my workplace. I believe he does it on function so I watch him shoot,” the coach stated, lightheartedly. “It’s terrific. He’s in an amazing rhythm. His preparation is giving him loads of confidence. And that’s one thing that you really want him to proceed to do. He’s at all times had the downhill capability which allowed him to get to the rim, make good rim reads. However the way in which he’s taking pictures the ball now has actually opened up loads of issues.”

Barrett’s three-point discipline objective proportion has elevated whereas his makes an attempt have decreased. Is there a correlation there? That’s unclear. But when Barrett can proceed to attain as effectively as he has in the course of the previous 5 weeks, it’ll solely assist the Knicks’ playoff push.

DECISION COMING ON NTILIKINA

Frank Ntilikina has performed nicely since coming into Thibodeau’s rotation late final month. Will he stay within the rotation when Derrick Rose returns? That’s unclear. However the Knicks have an fascinating choice to make on Ntilikina this month. He generally is a restricted free agent this summer season. If New York doesn’t plan to re-sign him, you’d suppose the membership would look to commerce him earlier than the March 25 commerce deadline.

Thibodeau appeared to be impressed by Ntilikina’s play — and his method when he was out of the lineup.

“(When) he’s not within the rotation, mainly the practices grow to be his video games. He’s there early, he’s with the early group. We’ve plenty of guys who are available early to do some additional stuff as a bunch…. now we have plenty of guys that put loads of additional work in and it’s paid off for them.”

IS EVERYONE ON THE SAME PAGE?

In accordance with the New York Submit, Thibodeau wasn’t dedicated to Julius Randle previous to the season and he needed the Knicks to pursue win-now free brokers. The article, the small print of which haven’t been confirmed by SNY, additionally acknowledged that Thibodeau needed to commerce Barrett and Mitchell Robinson for veteran gamers.

The concept that the teaching workers and entrance workplace weren’t on the identical web page is a bit troubling for a brand new regime. However there are going to be variations of opinion inside organizations. What’s necessary is how these variations are reconciled, how the selections get made and, in the end, the outcomes on the courtroom.

Thus far, the outcomes on the courtroom have been promising. Nonetheless, Randle, Robinson and Barrett might not love the concept that Thibodeau reportedly wasn’t offered on them previous to the season.

TRADE SEASON

The Knicks’ commerce for Rose confirmed you that the membership want to win this season. Will New York pursue related strikes on the deadline? There can be a number of veterans obtainable, so the Knicks may have a chance to improve their roster.

One identify to control? JJ Redick. In accordance with The Athletic, the Pelicans had been fielding calls on Redick with a deal with groups close to his dwelling in Brooklyn.

Late final month, the Celtics’ precedence concerning trades was on positions outdoors of taking pictures guard. So, except the membership modifications its considering, Boston doesn’t seem like a robust suitor for Redick. What in regards to the Nets? They’ve strong perimeter taking pictures and have wants on protection. So Redick wouldn’t remedy their most urgent wants.

That leaves the 76ers and Knicks, which is why Redick is one participant to control on the deadline (assuming he doesn’t attain a buyout with New Orleans).

 

Source: 4 things to watch as Knicks aim to reach playoffs in second half of NBA season

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