For the first time since the 2012-13 season, the New York Knicks will finish the regular season over .500.
First year Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau guided his team past the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday for the Knicks’ 12th win in their last 13 games.
The Knicks’ turnaround this season has been truly remarkable, and WynnBET currently has Thibodeau with third-best odds at +165 ($100 bet wins $165) to be named the NBA’s Coach of the Year. Thibodeau trails just Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams (-220) and the Utah Jazz’s Quin Snyder (-112) for the award.
While Williams and Snyder are coaching teams that were always expected to compete this season, Thibodeau transformed a team that won just 21 games last year into a top-four team in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks have the same record as the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers with just seven games to play.
However, the upcoming stretch for New York could make or break its playoff seeding and Thibodeau’s chances of winning NBA Coach of the Year.
New York began a six-game road trip on Sunday night, and it defeated the Houston Rockets to begin 1-0. On Monday, the Knicks were tasked with beating Ja Morant and the Grizzlies on the second day of a back-to-back, but 25 points from Derrick Rose helped New York take care of business.
Those were the two… shall we say, easy games?
The Knicks’ next four matchups to end the road trip are against the No. 3 seeded Denver Nuggets, Williams’ No. 2 seeded Suns, the No. 4 seeded Los Angeles Clippers and the No. 5 seeded Lakers.
Talk about a test before the playoffs.
New York is 1-3 against these four teams this season, with its lone win coming against the Lakers on April 12 with both LeBron James and Anthony Davis out of the lineup.
New York holds just a 1.5 game lead on the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, so these next four games could decide whether or not the Knicks have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
To put even more pressure on Thibodeau’s team, New York has just a three-game cushion between itself and the No. 7 seeded Boston Celtics.
If the Knicks were to lose all four games, it is possible that they could be in the NBA’s Play-In Tournament this postseason.
After winning 12 of 13, it’s hard to see Thibodeau’s defensive-minded squad squandering four straight games. But it is not impossible. However, if they did win multiple games, it would only further Thibodeau’s case as the league’s best coach this season.
If Thibodeau and the Knicks want the best chance to succeed in the playoffs, they’ll make sure to be ready to play in all four contests. After all, it’s a make or break stretch for the team and the coach.