Playoff bound Knicks visit Houston.
If you want a “Coaching and competent management are valuable.” argument, look no further than the New York Knicks.
Some might say the game had passed Tom Thibodeau by, but he was the only coach to take the woeful Timberwolves to the playoffs in recent decades. Now he’s at the helm in New York, and after a long spell of futility, some of it spectacular, the Knicks will appear in the post-season.
It’s not as though their roster got a giant upgrade, it’s the same strange collection of players it’s been for the past few season. Only this year, Julius Randle, one time Lakers savior, and former roster afterthought is averaging 24pts, 10,4 rbs, 5.9 ast per game, to lead the Knicks in all those categories. He’s projected by 538’s RAPTOR for 7.4 WAR, which is a very fine season indeed.
The rest of the starting lineup? Elfrid Payton, Reggie Bullock (better than you think), RJ Barrett and Nerlens Noel. This is not exactly a murderers row, in former thinking about these players, but Thibs has them getting after it on defense, and in true “burn them to the waterline” fashion, averaging the most minutes of any starting lineup.
Thibs mainstays Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson join rookies in the surprising Emanuel Quickley and disappointing Obi Toppin to make for a potent second unit, when the starters must, absolutely must, have a breather.
Anyhow, that lineup isn’t one that I would have projected for the playoffs at any point. But a change in coaching has them playing hard and winning games.
The Knicks would like more wins, the Rockets the reverse. Expect a Knicks victory. Even so, a solid four quarters of effort for the Rockets would be nice.
As usual the Rockets are missing any player paid over $14 million, and any player but Olynyk with more than 200 NBA games played.