Kyrie Irving Says ‘Different Knicks Team’ After Mavericks Win

Kyrie Irving New York Knicks

Getty Kyrie Irving fouls Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks.

The New York Knicks’ first loss in the OG Anunoby era was a disappointing one, falling to the shorthanded Dallas Mavericks, 128-124. Luka Doncic missed the January 11 contest due to an ankle injury, leaving Kyrie Irving as the lone star.

While a bad loss due to Luka being out, the Knicks have to tip their caps to the Mavericks and focus on what they can control moving forward. There seemed to be a lack of discipline early in the game and as a result, the Knicks couldn’t get the job done.

Plenty of the issue was due to Irving scoring 44 points. Irving, who’s historically played well against the Knicks, spoke to the media after the game and noted that they’re a different team than they’ve been. He had the following to say, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post:

“We know systems well. I had an idea about how they were going to guard me tonight,” Irving said. “But seeing OG for the majority of the game, and he forced me into some tough decisions down the stretch. It was definitely a different Knicks team than I played last year.”

The 44 points seemed effortless for Irving, despite the tough defense Anunoby played on him.

OG Anunoby Gave Irving Credit for Tough Shots

There are certain scorers in the NBA who aren’t guardable when they’re at the top of their game. At the very top of that list are guys like Kyrie Irving.

The 31-year-old guard has played well this season, but not to the level that many Mavericks fans were hoping for. However, when he had the chance to show off and prove that he could still win games by himself, he did just that against a Knicks team that entered play as the hottest team in basketball.

OG Anunoby did what he had to do when he guarded Irving, but he hit tough shots. Bondy reported what Anunoby had to say after the game.

“Just trying to make him take the most difficult shots possible,” Anunoby said. “And he makes those shots all the time. Not getting discouraged is the key.”

Tom Thibodeau Loves Anunoby’s Defense and Energy

Thibodeau and Anunoby, two guys who understand defense at the highest level, can live with Irving taking tough shots. At the end of the day, all a defender can do is make it tough on whoever they’re guarding that night.

Anunoby had become the first NBA player in history to post a plus-minus above 100 in his first five games with a team, according to Substacker Tommy Beer. His play has warranted the recent remarks as the New York Knicks have been a different team since his arrival.

Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News reported what Thibadeou said about his plus-minus contributions.

“There are a million stats. To me though, the most important stat is net rating and the impact that he’s had there and when you look at his net rating per 48, it’s off the charts,” Thibodeau said. “And that’s playing well because it’s not only you. It’s what you’re doing with the group that you’re on the floor with, and that’s the most important thing there is.”

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