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RJ Barrett takes exception to ‘cheap’ Knicks playoff objective

The Knicks received 21 video games final season after posting simply 17 the earlier yr, a mixed complete of 38 they’ve an opportunity to match or surpass throughout their 2020-21 rebirth below first-year coach Tom Thibodeau.

They clearly have exceeded outdoors expectations because the No. 4 crew within the Japanese Convention with 10 video games remaining, regardless of their nine-game win streak ending with Monday’s robust loss to the Suns on the Backyard.

Whereas acknowledging the necessity for the Knicks (34-28) to get again into the win column in Wednesday’s homestand finale in opposition to the Bulls, RJ Barrett dismissed any suggestion {that a} “cheap” objective earlier than the season was merely to qualify for the playoffs for the primary time since 2013.

“An affordable objective for who? For us, it’s the place we need to be. We would like extra,” Barrett declared after apply Tuesday. “I at all times anticipate extra from myself. This wasn’t luck. This wasn’t something however work.

“We labored onerous for what we’re doing proper now. We deserve all the things. We’ve bought 10 video games to maintain pushing and attempt to solidify what we wish.”

The primary two of the ultimate 10 look like particularly essential with a frightening highway journey looming, starting with Wednesday’s residence recreation in opposition to the Bulls (26-35). Thibodeau’s former crew entered Tuesday’s NBA motion within the eleventh place within the East, one recreation behind surging Washington for the ultimate spot within the league’s 7-10 play-in format for the postseason.

RJ Barrett
RJ Barrett
Getty Pictures

Even with Monday’s loss to the Suns, the Knicks have registered 21 wins on the Backyard this season, the seventh-most residence victories within the league. In addition they are 13-5 at MSG since a restricted quantity of followers have been first allowed to return to the Backyard on Feb. 23.

The Knicks then will get three days off earlier than opening a six-game highway journey Sunday in Houston in opposition to a free-falling Rockets squad that lugged a 4-36 report over its previous 40 video games into Tuesday’s recreation in opposition to Minnesota.

The remainder of the journey options video games in opposition to groups above .500 and within the prime 10 within the West — the Grizzlies, Nuggets, Suns, Clippers and Lakers.

“We love profitable at residence. We’ve been defending residence court docket all yr for essentially the most half,” Barrett mentioned. “Man, when the Backyard followers begin getting us going, it’s a terrific feeling.

“We have now to handle enterprise at residence, undoubtedly get a win, so we begin the highway journey on a superb word.”

Thibodeau equally led Chicago to a 21-game enchancment — from 41-41 to 62-20 — and a visit to the Japanese Convention finals throughout his first season there in 2010-11.

“I feel every season is completely different. There are some similarities when it comes to the traits of the crew,” Thibodeau mentioned Tuesday. “They’re a really hard-working sort of crew, excessive character. They love the method of working collectively as a gaggle, so there are similarities there. I feel you look again and also you see some traits which are comparable and a few which are completely different.

“Clearly, the make-up of this crew is loads completely different than that one. When it comes to the work ethic, that’s comparable, the teamwork is comparable.”

Knicks veteran reserves Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson additionally performed for Thibodeau with the Bulls that season, earlier than rejoining him in Minnesota and New York.

Requested when he first noticed the similarities between his debut head teaching season and now, Thibodeau added: “You see it by, each day, not a lot issues which are mentioned however issues which are being performed. And the willingness to sacrifice and put the group first. … After which to maintain it over a protracted time period. I feel in some instances you’ll have a crew that may begin off that means however then it adjustments. This crew has not modified. It’s been the identical from the beginning of coaching camp to the place we’re in the present day.”

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