Knicks' Tom Thibodeau: 'I hope we’re not satisfied' with getting back to .500 mark

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Tom Thibodeau black pullover wearing mask arms crossed looks displeased
Tom Thibodeau black pullover wearing mask arms crossed looks displeased

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season so far for the Knicks, as a fast start gave way to an early season slump before the team once again starting trending upwards.

Wednesday night's win, a balanced 108-85 win over the Dallas Mavericks at The Garden, was the Knicks' eighth victory in their last 12 games. RJ Barrett was outstanding in his second straight game of 30+ points (32 points, seven rebounds, two assists), while the Knicks held Dallas to just 41.0 percent shooting, including 21.6 percent from beyond the arc.

“Our starters were fantastic,” Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “That may have been the best game of the year from our starters, really played hard and played well.”

With the win on Tuesday night, the Knicks moved back to .500 at 21-21, with that same symmetry applying to their home record as well, which now stands at 11-11.

But Thibodeau explained afterwards that the Knicks can’t be satisfied with simply evening out their record.

“The way I look at it [is] ‘Are we playing good basketball?’ and we’ve got to stack our days,” said the Knicks head coach. “I hope we’re not satisfied with that. There’s a long way to go. We’ve got to keep fighting. We can’t feel too good about ourselves. We know tomorrow we have to start getting ready for Atlanta. So, it doesn’t end. It’s game after game after game, and we have to have that mentality.”

On Dec. 18, a loss to the Boston Celtics had the Knicks at 13-17, tying a season low at four games under the .500 mark. But the team has navigated through some murky waters, dealing with injuries to key players like Derrick Rose while other players have been in and out of the lineup due to health and safety protocols, and since that point, they’ve won eight of 12.

“I think the big thing, the challenge for every team in this league has been you’re dealing with guys in and out, and it’s more so than a normal year where usually you deal with that in training camp. There’s always an addition, your new draft picks, maybe there was a trade or free agency, and you adjust there and then it’s pretty consistent after that,” Thibodeau explained. "But when you also add in all the COVID stuff and injury, there’s a lot of constantly moving parts. So, everyone has to be able to adapt real fast. You might be out the rotation and the next day you could be starting, and you have to be ready.

“There can’t be any excuses. You’ve just got to find a way to get it done.”