Thibodeau did wonders with the lowest payroll team in the Eastern Conference en route to a shocking 41-31 regular season.
Game 4 of their playoff series takes place in the first round against the Hawks on Sunday in the Sea of Reds in the State Farm Arena, and Thibodeau has no more time with the curtsy behind 2-1. But he has no doubt that the discombobulated Randle can still take over the series.
« We know what a great passer he is, « said Thibodeau after Saturday’s practice session. “Just be Julius. I don’t want him to think about it. Let the game come to you. Sometimes you will get your recordings, sometimes you will have to do the game. He did that very well all year round. He’s our engine, he’s a fighter, he’s tough, he’s smart. He’ll find out. «
If he doesn’t, it’s all as good as over. The first three games were a cold dose of reality as Trae Young and his fellow Hawks colleagues were too much for the Knicks of Randle and RJ Barrett.
The Snakehead of the Knicks – as the Hawks players called Randle before the series – lost its poisonous poison in the playoffs.
Atlanta coach Nate McMillan’s complex plans were Randle’s Kryptonite. The Hawks make him look different , various defenders.
« It was a team effort, » said Atlanta-based Kevin Huerter, who is from the Albany area. « He’s the head of the snake. When the team is playing at its best, it is playing at its best. He takes pictures and creates for everyone else. We wanted to make it as difficult for him as possible. We threw different people at him. Defensively, it feels like every possession someone else gets gets a crack on them.
Randle scored 15, 15 and 14 points in the first three games. That has to change in Game 4, otherwise the Knicks stare at the run of a 3-1 hole in the off-season.
Another long-time NBA talent reviewer said it could be difficult for Thibodeau to unlock Randle like him did it in the regular season.
« It’s difficult to do more for Julius Randle because he has so much ball, » said the talent judge. « You can give [Derrick] Rose the ball more, but then you limit Rose as a scorer. What this shows is the need for a pass first point guard who can make Randle a finisher, not a scorer. » / p> « And they still don’t have the third man a team needs to look out for, wherever they are on the pitch. But they still need to have a way to free Randle for an easier shot. «
Thibodeau has to find a way because right now he’s being overwhelmed. And Randle has to drain his open 3-pointers, just like he did 41 percent of the time in the regular season.
» We’re guarding just him and really try to deny his touch, « McMillan said. » Every player who’s had the season he had and certainly what he did against us in the regular season is trying to limit his touch. After that, try to make the gate difficult for him and keep a body on top of him, and try to hold a body in front of you and get him to score over the top. «
Barrett still has to impose his will on the series. In the first three playoff games of his career, Barrett averages 11.3 points at 34.2 percent – 25 percent (4 against 16) from 3 points -Reach. Randle only shoots 24.1 percent in his first three playoffs and has 10 sales.
Randle averaged 24.1 points in the regular season – and 37.3 points in three games against Atlanta. If Randle in the regular season doesn’t show up on Sunday, the Knicks will go into summer and may wonder what their foundation is.
The glimmer of hope is Rose, 32, but it’s also a problem because of the massive minutes, which he recorded at his age – 38, 39 and 39 in the first three games – and his injury history.
An NBA source said the fact that the series only has one day off between games appeals to the younger ones The Knicks took Game 2 after a z long break.
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