The past 10 days have been tough for the Knicks.
They have lost five of their six games in that period, falling below .500, and falling in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The most recent loss came Wednesday night in Boston, where New York failed to hold the lead in the fourth quarter and struggled again in the clutch.
If you’re a Knick fan desperate for the club to break a seven-season playoff drought, these last 10 days have been your worst nightmare.
New York dropped several winning games during this time and had exposed most of the weaknesses on its roster.
But if you’re a Knick fan who thinks the club is playing with house money this season and only looking to improve on some young players, this 1-5 stretch has had a different feel.
That is because RJ Barrett, the club’s No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft has shot incredibly well.
In his participation in Wednesday’s game in Boston, Barrett had shot 50 percent from outside the arc in his last five games. He then went 6-for-6 against the Celtics, recording one of the best shooting performances of his young career.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau Barrett’s work ethic cites one of the factors in his strong shooting of late.
When we’ve been home, he usually comes by every night to shoot and take extra shots. He’s worked really hard to improve a shot and I think he’s really comfortable behind the line, Thibodeau said of Barrett. I am very happy with his overall progress and I think he will continue to grow.
Shooting was one of the main concerns for Barrett during the season.
Last year, as a rookie, he shot 40 percent of the field (32 percent from outside the arc) and 62 percent of the line. This year, Barrett has significantly improved those percentages (45 percent overall, 36 percent off the arc, and 74 percent from the line).
I think he learns from every situation. I think, you know, a lot of learning is trial and error (and) I think his preparation has been very good, Thibodeau said of Barrett. He watches a lot of movies. He watches his opponents’ film, he watches film after every game. He’s studying, he’s getting ready. He has done a lot of extra work.
So I think if you do those things you will improve; and he is a great worker.
DOUBLE TEAMEN TATUM
Marcus Smart hit a groundbreaking three late in the fourth quarter to break a 93-93 tie. Reggie Bullock came by to help Jayson Tatum on the piece, leaving Smart open from outside the arch. Smart drilled the open three-point shot.
Thibodeau was asked about the order and the doubling of Tatum at his post-game press conference.
Here’s what he said: Every time you commit to playing two on the ball, you have to understand what you’re willing to give up (to give up). You are going to be vulnerable in a different area. You don’t want to give up open shots (but you’ll be vulnerable if you double up on a team). And so they have two dynamic scores in Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown and when Kemba (walker) plays they have a third. So you go into your game plan and you know that, especially in the fourth quarter, you have to be determined to put two (defenders) on it, so that’s part of the deal.
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