The New York Knicks are entering Tuesday’s match after getting a 101-97 victory over Cleveland in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Cavs, and your superheroes held a practice session inside the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday.
The Knicks announced on Monday that Josh Hart is in danger of missing the second game of the series with a sprained left ankle. Hart received some treatment at practice on Monday, but he’s a game-time decision.
“We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” Tom Thibodeau said about Hart following Monday’s practice. “Usually with sprains like that, it’s more how you feel the next day. He said he felt fine in the game (where/when he was injured), so we’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
Hart has yet to miss a game since getting traded to New York ahead of the deadline, back in early February.
Here are some other news and quotes from your New York Knicks members following Monday’s practice.
Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday’s Game 2 at Cleveland and dealing with Donovan Mitchell
There has been some talk about New York “playing with house money” after they took home-court advantage from Cleveland with their series-opener victory on the road. Thibs is cautious about that and what lies ahead of his team.
“You’ve got to get ready for each game and understand the intensity that goes into each game. So if we’re thinking about Game 1, that’s not going to help us in Game 2. We’ve got to think about Game 2 and all the things we need to do better in order to give ourselves our best chance of winning,” Thibs said.
“Take it step by step. Don’t skip over anything. And be ready for this game. Don’t look ahead. Don’t look behind. Just concentrate on exactly what’s in front of you. And hopefully, we’ve been building that habit all year long,” finished the coach.
Tom Thibodeau evaluates RJ Barrett's Game 1 performance:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 17, 2023
"The bottom line is winning the game. If you don't shoot well, do some other things - hustle, get stops." pic.twitter.com/tbSJ1Mj1OR
Thibodeau also shared some thoughts about Donovan Mitchell’s steady production, no matter what happens in any game he’s involved in, nor the team or defensive scheme he’s challenged with.
“You’re not gonna give a guy like Mitchell a steady diet of anything, because he’s seen every defense there is,” Thibodeau said. “You can defend him great and he can still make it. But it’s your decision-making by everyone else behind, too. So, it’s the ball, the paint, react out, cover the line,...”
So it’s not just Spida and what he does, but everything he generates and that surrounds him, according to Thibs: “We gotta finish our defense and know that there are multiple things that are required on each play.”
RJ Barrett’s shooting struggles... but promising all-around contributions
One of the most talented Knickerbockers, RJ Barrett, finished Game 1 with a paltry seven points on a 2-12 shooting day in which he connected on just one three-point attempt. “I had a bad shooting night. But I pretty much did everything else well,” Barrett said on Monday.
Barrett said he would “just try to work on the shots he missed.” As he sees his performance from Saturday, it wasn’t “a horrible game.” Barrett also thinks he “definitely helped the team win,” and that he “got some good shots, missed some wide-open ones, missed some easy bunnies.” At the end of the day, Barrett “was happy with the shots he got,” saying that he was going to “work hard.”
Thibs defended Barrett on Monday, saying that “the bottom line is winning the game,” which is pretty much what New York did last weekend to earn a 1-0 series lead in the first round out East.
“If you don’t shoot well, do some other things. Hustle, get stops, his size is important,” Thibodeau said of Barrett. “The rebounding component, the ability to challenge shots, that’s a big part of it, as well. How he fits into the team scheme.”
"I tried to make it tough for him as much as I can. I think I had a good game defensively, overall."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 17, 2023
RJ Barrett talks about the defense he played on Darius Garland in Game 1: pic.twitter.com/RBveqL67lb
RJ Barrett said that when defending Darius Garland, he has to “make it as tough for him as much as he can”. Barret feels he had ”a good game defensively overall,” but the wing also acknowledged that Garland “is an All-Star,” that he’s “a really good player,” and thinks that makes it inevitable that Mitchell “is going to have his moments.”
Speaking about the series as a whole, Barrett said on Monday that the Knicks “got to try to come back, stay focused, and get another one” following the Game 1 win. “Our goal is to win the series, and Game 2 is next. That’s really all we’re focused on.”
Quentin Grimes on stepping up in his postseason debut
At the end of regulation, after Julius Randle grabbed the most important rebound of the whole matchup, Grimes went to the charity stripe and hit a game-sealing couple of freebies.
“During the game you’re so locked in, trying to focus on winning the game,” Grimes started. “It didn’t really hit me until after the game. I was like, ‘Oh wow, those were pretty big free throws in my first playoff game, for sure.’”
“That really was my first playoff game and [I] had to go to the line and make two big-time free throws,” he finished.
Donovan Mitchell tried to get in Quentin Grimes' head during his big free throws to secure Game 1 for the Knicks. Grimes rattled in the first one, and Mitchell gave him some flak for it.— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 17, 2023
Grimes told Mitchell, "you're going to like this next one," and then swished the second FT. pic.twitter.com/Aa7xhh8nK4
If Hart can’t play or is only available for fewer minutes than usual, it’s fair to assume that Quentin Grimes will need to take on a larger role. Not that the kid is afraid of anything even though he’s got 27 minutes of postseason experience and is coming off his playoff debut last Saturday.
“I don’t think it’s really any more pressure. I feel like I’ve been guarding the best player from the other team the whole season,” Grimes said. The young guard thinks these games are “just another night,” and that the only difference is “the stakes are a little bit higher.”
Grimes knows what he needs to do when the ball gets rolling on Tuesday: “Just going to come in a little more sharper, just knowing that if [Hart] doesn’t play, I just have to be more alert at all times.” Grimes added that he doesn’t mind who he faces, “whether I got Darius or Donovan.”
After saying all that, though, Grimes kept the mind games going saying that he “knows [Hart’s] a fighter,” and revealing that the Knicks super-sub “is going to try to give it a go for sure.” Grimes finished on a high note full of confidence trusting his teammate in-time recovery: “I’m not even really worried about that.”