7 Reasons How Knicks RIPPED Milwaukee, 130-110

After two disappointing losses to start the season, the Knicks RIPPED Milwaukee and Greek Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo on a Sunday night at a Coronavirus empty Madison Square Garden, 130-110. Milwaukee who has had the best record in the NBA the last two seasons. The Knicks led by 20 or more points throughout most of the 3rd and 4th quarters; a total blowout.

How the Knicks did it:

1. Payton Played Like He Did Last Year

Elfrid Payton, coming off a horrid game against Philly, turned it around early. In the first two games Payton seemed relegated to a shooter in the corner — which led me to suspect maybe Thibodeau’s modified-triangle system of pass-pass-pass was restrictive to penetrating point guards like Payton.

In this game it was a different story. Payton came out penetrating and scoring and orchestrating — playing the way he did last year. His excellent play continued and got even better as the game went on — his final line score was: 12-16 shooting (3-3 from 3) for 27 pts, 7 assists, a +15 to lead the Knicks to the blowout win over the best team in the East.

After the prior game, NY Daily News’ Stefan Bondy tweeted that Elfrid could be seen on the court practicing his shooting — the lone player on the court at MSG after the game.

After this game, coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t mention any changes to game plan — he said it was Elfrid who stepped it up. When asked if he or the coaching staff had said anything to Payton, he replied: “Elfrid’s a good pro; he’s been coming in extra, just working on his game. You don’t really have to say anything to him; other than we talk to him every day about what the game plan is, and what our expectations are, to try to prepare him as best we can for each game. And he’s learning a new system; he has new teammates. And that’s what you love about him; he comes in every day, gives you what he has, and he knows how to bounce back.”

The performance shut up many on Knicks Twitter who have been crapping all over Payton since the pre-season.

2. Randle Outplayed Greek Freak

Julius Randle had another spectacular night — he continues to play like an All Star. He outplayed Greek Freak. His final line: 29 pts (8-17, 3-5 from 3, 10-11 in free throws), 14 rebounds, 7 assists, only 2 turnovers in 37 minutes, and some excellent D. He was a +12.

Gone are the days when he was over zealous and over dribbling in coach David Fizdale’s system last year. He is playing a calm, determined, energetic, team-based basketball — leading the team on the court. He just turned 26.

When the Knicks signed him to a 2-year (with club option for 3rd year) contract — he seemed like a short-term solution until Greek Freak became available in Summer 2021 free agency. But now with Freak re-signing with Milwaukee long term, and Randle playing like All Star — that equation may have changed. Randle may be here for a while — a building block.

Even NBA Central put up this tweet:

3. Barrett Had a Bounce-Back Game

RJ Barrett bounced back from his horrid shooting game against Philly, when he was 2-15. He played well from the start in this game — a heady brand of complete basketball, and scored at will sometimes against the Milwaukee interior defense — with lefty and righty drives.

He had 17 pts on 7-17, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and good defense.

4. Burks is a Scoring Machine

Alec Burks lit it up early and often for NY — with Payton penetrating and scoring, and Randle scoring in so many ways, and then Burks and Barrett lighting it up from inside and outside — the Knicks were a tough team to guard.

Burks is an amazing natural scorer; he has so many moves — on one play last night he drove to the basket, received contact, and shot the ball in one quick motion as the foul was being called; very savy. And when he shoots from anywhere on the court, you almost know it’s going in. He has one of the best handles on the Knicks, and plays good scrappy defense too. An amazing off-season pickup.

Last night he was 5-7 (4-5 from 3) for 18 points, 5 assists.

5. Thibodeau’s Coaching

One of the biggest reasons why the Knicks won is of course Thibodeaus’ coaching. I had started pointing The Fickle Finger of Blame in his direction after the first two losses, when the Knicks offense looked predictable. But the Knicks certainly looked like a well coached team on both ends of the court in this game.

Afterwards, Thibodeau said the strategy of a good offense is to “force the defense to collapse and shift and once you do that you have to sustain your spacing, hit the open man, and make plays for each other; then you get into a good rhythm, get high quality shots, it gets you a chance to offensive rebound, and gives you a chance go get your defense set.”

The win over Milwaukee was a stark contrast to a year ago when Milwaukee ran the David Fizdale-coached Knicks off the court. Some Knick fans remembered.

6. Robinson Played 35 Min — Defended Paint Against Freak

Mitchell Robinson played 35 minutes, and only picked up 2 fouls — helping defend the middle against Greek Freak drives. He did a great job staying on court so long with a +16; 9 pts on 4-6 shooting, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks. On one particular play in the 1st half, he took on Greak Freak in the lane, and denied him a good shot.

7. Ntilikina Played Well

Frank Ntilikina played well as the backup point guard, and even went 4-4 from 3. He started showing moxie on his dribble when double-teamed at the middle of the court in the 4th quarter — and put his dribble into overdrive to blow past defenders. He played good defense on Greak Freak when put on him.

Thibodeau is going to have to figure out how to get Ntilikina playing time when Immanuel Quickley returns.

Other Reasons

Kevin Knox again showed flashes and played a good game — 7 points in 26 minutes on 3-8 shooting. He was gritty on the boards and on defense. Reggie Bullock played well as did seemingly all the Knicks in this blowout.

The Boxscore





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