Even without injured star Jalen Brunson, the Knicks have ‘more than enough to win,’ says coach Tom Thibodeau
Ahead of another game without the injured Jalen Brunson, coach Tom Thibodeau expressed confidence in Immanuel Quickley and the Knicks’ depth to continue their nine-game winning streak.
“We have more than enough to win,” Thibodeau said.
Brunson was ruled out of Tuesday’s game against the Hornets because of a sore foot, the same injury that sidelined the point guard in Sunday’s double-overtime game against the Celtics. Thibodeau, who is Bill Belichick-ian in his lack of injury updates, did not provide a schedule, but said Brunson will travel with the team on its four-game road trip that begins Thursday in Sacramento.
“I leave that up to the medical staff and the player,” Thibodeau said. “For me, I know he will play if he can play and if he and the doctors feel like he needs another day, then we give him the day.
“We love our depth. The next guy, get in there and do it.”
Quickley, who scored a career-high 38 points against the Celtics, started at point guard Tuesday with Miles McBride as the backup. Thibodeau said he didn’t expect him to apply much more defensive pressure to Quickley after his break against the Celtics.
“It’s not like it came out of nowhere. I think it was part of everyone’s defensive plan,” Thibodeau said. “I think (Quickley’s offense in Boston) was also part of the flow of the game. It was a game of ups and downs. Whatever I see, whether it’s drop coverage or switch coverage or usually when a guy gets like that, they’re going to blitz or shoot. Whatever they do, if they put two on the ball, read it and it’s an easy offense. Take the ball away, don’t fight the double team. Take the ball away, everybody get to your space and play with that in the back and get some really good shots out of that.”
Still, Hornets coach Steve Clifford said Brunson creates a ripple effect that negatively impacts the Knicks no matter how well Quickley plays.
“I think they are very different because you don’t have both,” Clifford said. “It’s not one or the other. Forty-eight minutes is a long time. Thus, it affects its depth. He was great the other night (in Boston). He started off good. And then the end of the game and overtime. He had that stretch where he scored seven points in a row and he’s played like that in stretches like that before. I would say that Jalen to train against is obviously one of the two types that you focus on. But certainly Quickley is capable of a big night and they have other guys as well.
The Knicks entered Tuesday with a 3-2 record without Brunson, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Month.