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Tom Thibodeau after loss to Cavs: “The game tells you what to do”

Are you sure?

2023 NBA Playoffs - New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

Darius Garland said that the Cavs would go into Game Two “hitting first,” and that’s what they did as Cleveland demolished the New York Knicks and beat them 107-90 in a no-contest affair.

“New York Sucks,” chanted some Cavnatics. And suck did the Knicks, indeed.

Tom Thibodeau’s guys could muster all of 60 points through the first 36 minutes. The interval scores: 22, 17, and 21 entering the fourth period. Cleveland reached the 59-point plateau after just a couple of quarters and went to the break leading by 20.

The boys were smacking each other in their faces. Just imagine. So legitimately true that they even made it to Shaqtin’ a Fool.

“When you look at it, we turned the ball over,” Thibs started his presser. “That was a big problem.”

Thibs thinks the monster turnovers (18 through the game, the same amount as the Cavs’) and the points-off-them scored by the Cavaliers were “a problem,” same as the bad rebounding—also “a problem.”

“It was too late when we started challenging,” Thibs said.

The Knicks reacted by the fourth quarter when they finally won a lone scoreboard battle 30-25 . . . at the end of a war already lost.

That said, it could have been worse.

Yes, that’s Julius Randle. Yes, that’s Jarrett Allen. Yes, that’s 2:22 remaining on the fourth with the Knicks down 23 points on the score. And yes, that’s a play that we shouldn’t be talking about because, as the very own Reggie Miller claimed live on TNT’s broadcast of the game “There is no reason for Brunson and Randle to be on the floor here.”

Whether or not you think “that’s a hustle play” or “a basketball play,” as our friend Jarrett claimed, that’s of no importance here. Julius Randle should’ve been sitting on the bench then and there.

“Actually, we’re going to sub Julius out, but he wanted to stay more for a couple of possessions just to find a rhythm,” Thibodeau said after the game.

Yeah, right, we get the point, and Randle himself confirmed after the game that he was the one asking Thibs to stay on the court, saying that “at that point, I was just trying to get my legs under me,” and that he was trying to “get a little rhythm.”

The thing is the game, at that point, was nothing more than a glorified, postseason-vibes scrimmage with one team trying to run out the clock so they could get back home, and the other one attempting an ill-advised, never-happening comeback of sorts while putting their bodies on the line and getting into perilous and risky injury territory without rhyme or reason.

“It’s playoffs,” Thibodeau said about Allen’s flagrant foul. “I saw a quick replay, but... before I comment I want to see it.”

Randle, speaking about the particular play, said that he thinks “it was a little unnecessary” and explained that in the playoffs, “you don’t give up on plays,” adding that “typically, you run across the body—not like that.”


Josh Hart played on Tuesday through an ankle injury and obviously, he struggled mightily. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have played at all. I’m just saying the man logged a second-unit-hight 27 minutes . . . before talking to the media after the game saying, “I’m feeling good.” Good for a minus-29 over his playing time.

”He’s a tough player, so any time you have quality players, it adds to your depth,” Thibodeau said about Hart being there. “Really, I view him as a starter who comes off the bench. You can trust him, you can count on him. Very dependable, makes everyone around him better, and he plays to win.”

That’s cool, but perhaps Tuesday wasn’t the day, not at least after what went down after the first quarter when Cleveland took a 25-22 lead into the second and turned it into a game-high 29-point margin midway through the fourth.

Considering New York was obliterated, listening to Tom Thibodeau explain things after the game so calmly and assuredly was rather baffling.

“It’s part of the game, just shoot your shots. You’re open? Shoot it. You’re guarded and there are two, three people on you? Make the simple play, trust the pass. The game tells you what to do,” reasoned Thibodeau after the loss. “Just trust [your teammates]. You’re open? Shoot it. You’re guarded? pass it,” he kept repeating.

“Same thing with [Quickley]. He can help us in a lot of different ways,” Thibs said about his reserve guard. ”Just make the team function well—so if you’re not shooting well, that doesn’t necessarily impact how you can perform.”

Quickley had another nightmare-type game on Tuesday following his stinker on Saturday. The 6MOY finalist scored 12 points but was hardly impactful through his 23 minutes as the Knicks were outscored by five in the time he spent roaming the hardwood.

Explaining what went wrong for the Knicks in the game that tied the series at one apiece, the coach said that Cleveland “beat us to the ball.” He kept on going, saying that the team “knew the challenge would be the intensity of the game,” although that surely didn’t light a fire under their ass judging by how it all ended up.

The Knicks lost the rebounding battle 43-36, the bench got outscored 36-24, and they couldn’t combine to save their lives, dishing out 16 dimes compared to Cleveland’s 26 assists through the night.

Not even the charity stripe could save New York (25-of-30 freebies made) with shooting splits reading 36/24/83 to the Cavs’ 49/42/81. Yes, that’s 24% on three-balls as your superheroes launched 29 of them on the day, hitting only seven.


The third game between these two squads is scheduled for Friday, finally back at the Garden. Tip-off at 8:30 ET. Five-game series from now on. Don’t miss it.