The New York Knicks have been playing good tough basketball and they’re still arguably the number one defensive team in the entire NBA. Tom Thibodeau’s signature hard nosed style so far has proven to be tailor made for two of the Knicks leaders in Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. The league has taken notice on how hard the Knicks play defensively. The men sporting the city edition black and blue jersey’s marched into Dallas on Friday, April 16th, and pulled off a revenge victory on the shoulders of Julius Randle who scored 44-points to go along with 10-rebounds and 7-assists. RJ Barrett chipped in as well with 24-points and 8-rebounds in the victory against the Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis led Dallas Mavericks.

Nerlens Noel’s Phenomenal Defensive Play During Mitchell Robinson’s Absence has Been Key.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Nerlens Noel during his last five games averaged 3.0-blocks and 8.6-total rebounds per game for the defensive minded Knicks. The number one defensive team in the NBA haven’t lost much of a step without Mitchell Robinson and Noel is one of the reason’s why. Noel is a perfect fit for Tom Thibodeau’s agenda which is rim protection for a full 48 minutes. The former Kentucky Wildcat has shown appreciation to play for this Knicks organization. Therefore, Noel returning on a reasonable contract is very likely.

Taj Gibson Has Also Been a Pleasant Surprise During Mitchell Robinson’s Absense.

The 35-year old veteran Taj Gibson has shown nothing but toughness, hustle and flat out grit during his expanded role as of late. Huge defensive plays, high basketball IQ on both ends of the court, along with undeniable heart, has motivated the rest of the Knicks to follow his lead in the intensity department. Taj possesses a “take no prisoners” mentality and the rest of the roster isn’t backing down from any opponent due to that tough mentality the Brooklyn native takes on the battlefield with him each and every night. Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose are two students of the game who’ve gained ultimate trust from Tom Thibodeau throughout the years. The former USC Trojan has impacted the Knicks tremendously and he’s been a luxury especially in a season that has seen the Knicks best rim protector in Mitchell Robinson on the sidelines more often than not.

Julius Randle & RJ Barrett Have Spearheaded the Movement for the Current Tough Knicks Identity.

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Over the last five games, Julius Randle averaged 30.2-points to go along with 9.2-rebounds and 6.4-assists. Randle is also shooting .429 percent from three and .829 percent from the free throw line. The former Kentucky Wildcat’s overall field goal percentage during the current five game winning streak is .468 percent from the field on a high volume of 21.8 field goal attempts. Both players are also playing exceptional defense on the floor for coach Thibs. Tom Thibodeau referred to Randle as the engine of this Knicks team in the past. The motor Randle displays night in and night out is rubbing off on the rest of the young Knicks roster including RJ Barrett.

RJ Barrett have been hot in spurts during the season as well. One area of improvement that can’t go unnoticed is Barrett’s three point shooting. The former Duke star is averaging .391 percent from three point land. The work has been put in by the chiseled lefty 6’6” 205 lbs Toronto native shooting guard. It’s imminent the 20 year old will continue working on improving his craft due to his desire to be great at his position.

Julius Randle Versus Kristaps Porzingis on Display in Dallas.

Julius Randle went back into his home town seeking revenge on the Dallas Mavericks in front of his loved ones. Dallas got the best of the Knicks during the last matchup at Madison Square Garden with a 99-86 victory on April 2nd. Porzingis didn’t have to deal with so many boos from fans this time around as he scored 23-points on 8-20 shooting from the field. One of his buckets was a posterizing dunk on Julius Randle as shown below.

Julius Randle has been proving that availability is the number one ability. Porzingis has been riddled with leg injuries during the span of his young career and he’s looking to change that by continuous work in the weight room. Only time will tell for the talented floor stretching 7’3” mobile power forward/center whether or not he can consistently withstand regular season and playoff competition physically.

Pelicans Look for Revenge on Knicks at MSG on Sunday.

Knicks will face the New Orleans Pelicans in a Sunday matinee April 18th at Madison Square Garden. Knicks handled business against Zion Williamson’s the Pelicans with a 116-106 victory in New Orleans. Head Coach Stan Van Gundy, Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and the Pelicans will be seeking revenge on the Knicks. However, if the Knicks continue to play hard and with a sense of urgency on both ends, the winning streak could be extended to six games.


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