Another day, another double-digit New York Knicks lead blown, and it’s none other than head coach Tom Thibodeau sitting firmly in the crosshairs for fans to blame.
The two-time Coach of the Year’s honeymoon phase in the Big Apple has come to an end after leading the franchise to their first playoff appearance since the 2012-2013 campaign last season.
Thibodeau’s seat as the Knicks’ head coach has never been hotter, following their latest loss, with the team giving up a 16-point first-half lead on the road to the Philadelphia 76ers.
A majority of the heat is coming from the fans, who’ve quickly grown tired of his veteran-heavy rotations as embarrassing losses stack up, and the team’s young talent watches from the sideline.
But it’s Thibodeau’s comments on the point guard rotation following New York’s loss to the 76ers that set social media ablaze on Wednesday night.
When asked about the Knicks’ not playing a true point guard, he replied (via @FredKatz on Twitter) with an appalling lack of concern for the team’s 25th-ranked offense:
That’s the best we have, so that’s what we’re doing, and they’re capable. … (I’m) more concerned about our defense than our offense. We scored plenty of points.
It seems the head coach has opted to keep digging, despite finding himself at the center of a Manhattan-sized hole.
Fans React to Thibodeau’s Comments
The aforementioned quote from Tom Thibodeau wasn’t received warmly amongst New York Knicks fans on social media.
Some fans, like Vivek (@vdadhania on Twitter) suggested the head coach isn’t even watching the games:
Others, including @blamesdolan_, suggested Thibodeau is actually allergic to making adjustments:
Then there were the more sensible reactions, the by-the-numbers onlookers.
CBS Sports’ Adi Joseph was quick to point out the team’s offensive ineptitude, despite the head coach saying the focus should be on the defense:
As did @deanisreal:
Steve Simineri (@SSimineri on Twitter) suggested that Thibodeau might be trying to get fired at this point:
He’s not the first, and certainly won’t be the last Knicks fan to suggest–or more so wish for–this.
Kevin D. Water Law (@docKev5 on Twitter) says Thibodeau shouldn’t have been brought back after the All-Star break:
But the majority of replies maintained the same theme, calling for rookie Miles McBride to get some run at point guard over the team’s final 20 games:
Are fans wrong to think that the rookie could give the team a better chance at winning games?
No, not at all.
Because he can’t possibly be worse than their current starting point guard.
Burks’ Struggles Continue
Alec Burks finished Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers with nine points and four assists on two-for-11 shooting from the field and one-for-four shooting from deep.
It’s the latest in a string of poor shooting performances as the 11-year veteran struggles being played out of position at starting point guard.
According to Basketball Reference’s Play-by-Play tracker, Burks’ 403 minutes at point guard this season are his most spent at the position since 2011.
The result has been a stagnant Knicks offense, with the veteran’s hesitance or impatience with his inexperience running an offense flashing every other possession.
Thibodeau said on February 23rd that upon digging into the numbers, he’d concluded that Burks was the team’s best option at point guard.
Yet lineups with the 30-year old at point guard have been some of the team’s worst this season, and analytically, don’t stack up well with the rest of the league.
Per Cleaning the Glass, in the 1,024 possesions the Knicks have played with Burks at point guard, they’re scoring 108.7 points per 100 possesions and allowing 114.1 points per on defense.
Those numbers rank in the 29th and 27th percentiles respectively; incredibly poor.
With only 20 games remaining to a season that’s all-but lost, it’s become a war between the fans and the New York Knicks head coach over what should be prioritized down the stretch.
And given that they’ve no long-term injury at point guard in one of the league’s worst offenses, it’s entirely likely that the fans will come out on top in this one.
But even if they don’t, trust that they won’t go down without being heard. That much will always ring true for the Madison Square Garden faithful.