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Knicks have the chance to turn the season around and resume the playoff conversation over the next three weeks

By on December 26, 2021 0

Kemba Walker and Julius Randle slap their hands in black Christmas Day uniforms

The Knicks’ next 13 games are against teams under 0.500 that come into play on December 25. So over the next three weeks they have a great opportunity to turn their season around.

If that happens – if the Knicks score wins and climb the Eastern Conference standings – we may look at their Christmas Day win over Atlanta as a turning point.

Obviously, the Knicks didn’t beat a top-tier team on Christmas Day. Young Traé, Kevin huerter and six other Hawks were unavailable due to health and safety protocols.

But, the Christmas Day victory turned out to be significant because Kemba Walker and Julius Randle well done each other. Walker had a triple double and Randle had 25 points and 12 rebounds in the victory.

“I think we honestly feed off of each other and we realize the team will go as we go,” Randle said of himself and Walker.

If Randle and Walker continue to feed themselves – and the Knicks defend themselves adequately – they may be able to grab a few wins over the next three weeks.

THE RESURGENCE OF WALKERS

Hours before the Knicks-Bulls game at MSG on December 2, Walker’s jersey was removed from a prominent display space in a team store at the arena. It was the Knicks’ first home game since Knicks head coach Tom thibodeau removed Walker from the rotation.

Who knows if this was a coincidence or an arena-wide directive, but it became clear over the next three weeks that Thibodeau was committed to benching Walker.

The Knicks were shorthanded in the backcourt for several games in the weeks after Walker’s bench. But, Walker never saw the ground. He only returned to the rotation on December 18 against Boston, when the club only had two main guards available.

Thank Walker, however, for staying ready during the bench and producing when Thibodeau called his name again.

Here are Walker’s numbers since returning to rotation:

Did Thibodeau make a mistake putting Walker on the bench? It is a matter of opinion.

In some context, the Knicks haven’t played against elite teams since Walker’s return and Mitchell robinson has played at a different level, especially in defense, in the last few games.

So if you think Thibodeau was right to put Walker on the bench, again, that’s a matter of opinion. But, it should be noted that some players felt the decision to bench Walker showed an inconsistency because not all players were held to the same level.

Now, players disagree with NBA training decisions all the time. If the team wins, it’s usually of no consequence. This only becomes relevant if a coach loses the dressing room or a team does not meet expectations.

Walker said on Saturday he had “finished” the bench. And if he and Randle continue to play well together and the Knicks string together a few wins, Walker’s bench will only be a footnote in the season.

Meanwhile, Randle noted on Saturday that he and Walker differed a bit too early in the season.

“(We were) trying to figure out how to play with each other and these things take time. And we kind of got a second chance, ”Randle said.

He added: “I’m happy for (Walker) … he’s able to come out and be who he is. I’m sure when he signed on to come here, that’s kind of what he envisioned. “Playing the kind of basketball he’s playing right now. I think we honestly feed off each other and we realize the team will go as we go along.”


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