Here are some things I took away from tonight’s victory.
Steph Curry Struggles Mightily Against Defensively Aggressive Knicks
Going into tonight, the Knicks knew they had to stop Stephen Curry to win tonight’s game. They did just that. Although Elfrid Payton is often scrutinized by fans, his defensive effort against the superstar couldn’t be matched. As a matter of fact, Curry turned over the ball four times as he was clearly flustered by the Knicks’ swarming defense.
Not only did Curry struggle with turnovers, but he also didn’t shoot the ball efficiently tonight. Curry did score 30 points, in part to a red-hot second quarter. But, he ended the game by shooting nine of 19. Although, Curry did shoot five of 14 from beyond the arc.
His plus-minus rating was -16. The Knicks stopped Steph Curry and the Warriors couldn’t help him out.
RJ Barrett Has A Career Night
Tonight, RJ Barrett was the key to the Knicks’ offense. Barrett put up a career-high in points with 28. He had another efficient shooting night, going 10 for 19, hitting two of three from downtown. Barrett showed his excellent ability in driving to the rim and drawing fouls.
Barrett also maintained a solid defensive presence like he has all season. His court awareness maintained its excellence and always looked to make the right play at the right time.
RJ Barrett has had a nice five-game stretch. In the run, he has put up:
- 21.8 points per game
- 6.4 rebounds per game
- 3.6 assists per game
- 51.4 field goal percentage
- 38.9 three-point percentage
- 86.9 free-throw percentage
RJ Barrett has shown that he can be a secondary scorer on the team and in the league in general. His spurts of excellent play make him watchable. The tough task that lies ahead for Barrett is maintaining this type of consistency.
The Knicks Continue To Buy Into Head Coach Tom Thibodeau (This Team Is Fun)
The Knicks were not expected to do much this season. Vegas put the over/under of Knicks regular-season wins at 22. However, they’re showing they are not a 22-win team. Seems crazy, right?
This team has been fun to watch for all of this season. Not only fun but the team plays competitive and with grit, outside of two or three blowout losses. I seriously believe the Knicks are no longer the basement of the NBA. The roster isn’t great but head coach Tom Thibodeau is getting the most out of these players that coaches like David Fizdale and Mike Miller wouldn’t.
This team finally has an identity. That identity is a defensive-gritty team. Under Thibodeau, the Knicks have become one of the best defenses in the NBA. The gritty defense even gives fans nostalgia of the 90s teams that had the defense-first identity. RJ Barrett is now a solid defensive player. Mitchell Robinson is becoming one of the more underrated defensive centers in the NBA. Julius Randle‘s once dreaded play has transformed into an All-Star caliber level.
It’s great to finally see a Knicks team play great for their coach. I’m not saying that the Knicks are world-beaters because they beat the Golden State Warriors and stand at 8-8. But, this team is fun to watch and are overachieving.