There is perhaps no team that has undergone as much of a transformation this season as the New York Knicks. And the reason for that is first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has done a lot to "change the culture" and make his club the toughest to score on in the NBA.
This approach has vaulted the Knicks into a position where they are very much in contention for a playoff spot. And Thibodeau has a chance to deliver a message to the team that rather unceremoniously fired him from his last job.
Pro Basketball Betting Odds: Knicks -2.5, Total 215
The Timberwolves have lost seven of their last eight games, although it should be noted that their last six road losses have come by margins of six, five, two, three, three and two points. So they have been more competitive. And of course, having Karl-Anthony Towns is a good thing for them; in the six games since he's come back from the COVID, he's averaged 21.2 points and 9.7 rebounds, shooting 56%. D'Angelo Russell continues to be out, but Malik Beasley is up over 20 ppg again.
The T-Wolves have dropped their last three games both straight-up and against the number at home, but they weren't out of any of those games. They seemed to have some control the other night against Toronto, which shot just 33% for the night, but the Raptors outscored them 28-17 in the fourth quarter.
Minnesota shoots just 43.9% from the field, and that is not something unwelcomed by the Knicks, who are #1 in the NBA in field goal percentage (43.1%), three-point percentage (32%) and points allowed. That's no accident, as Thibodeau has come in and established a defensive mindset much faster than many expected, and that is one thing he wasn't necessarily able to d when he was with the rather undisciplined T-Wolves, who let him go in January 2019, causing some personal embarrassment for him.
So we've got to believe that he's got to be a little more super-charged for this game. He has had the benefit of three full days to prepare, because San Antonio had to postpone a game with them well ahead of time. Julius Randle, who raves about his coach and loves his process, says that Thibs has "the most detailed game plans I've ever seen."
He'll take advantage of Minnesota's weaknesses. And you can bet there will be some adjustments after this team's last outing, a 108-89 loss to Orlando, where guards Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley combined to shoot just 2-for-22 from the field.
That performance notwithstanding, Rose, the former MVP, has already been a steadying influence on the younger players. He'll be facing former teammates here, as will Taj Gibson, who will try to harass Towns as part of a two-man combo (with Nerlens Noel) that replaces the injured Mitchell Robinson in the middle.
The Knicks are obviously not perfect. But they have a real concept; a real identity now. And they are playing a deliberate, disciplined game. That is likely to thwart the Wolves, who seem to want to hoist up as many shots as possible. If there is indeed some payback to be had, Thibodeau will get it.
Charles Jay is unlike most analysts associated with
handicapping and the gaming industry, in that he also has had extensive
experience in the so-called "mainstream" media as well.
He has been involved with professional sports industry for
almost two decades, working in all capacities, as a matchmaker, booking agent,
manager, and also as an editorial consultant on USA Network's "Tuesday Night
Fights," which, for a time, carried "Charles Jay's Line" on
upcoming fights. As a broadcaster, he has called world title fights around the
world for various outlets, and has served as a color commentator for Sunshine
Network and Prime Network.
His radio experience includes being the host of numerous
programs, including "Sportswatch with Charles Jay" on KDWN in Las
Vegas, "Total Action" on WAXY 790 in Miami, and "Charles Jay's
Winning Edge", syndicated into 55 markets by the American Radio Networks,
and he's done podcasts on all subjects related to sports, gaming and popular
Working within the casino industry, he has a special events
consultant for Casino Magic in Mississippi, as that venue established itself in
the early 1990s as a hotbed of boxing activity in particular. Prior to this, he
had been engaged as a casino gaming columnist for, among others, Casino Player,
Card Player and Sports Form (now known as Gaming Today), specializing in
blackjack. And later on, his investigative series on boxing, entitled
"Operation Cleanup," won him much critical acclaim, including the
2003 "Dignity" Award, in the category of "Best Sports
Writer," as bestowed by the Retired Boxers Foundation, a non-profit
organization dedicated to rendering assistance to ex-fighters in need.
In 2006 he established a content services division of his
company, which has eventually evolved in JayWords, and he is arguably the
world's most prolific sports & gaming writer, with over 20,000 articles to
his credit, the vast majority of which have been sports handicapping pieces. So
you might say he has analyzed as many sporting events as anyone alive during
this period. He has also brought some interest with his so-called
"gimmick" odds on special events, including the Academy Awards, the
NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl, for which he posted dozens and dozens of
different odds propositions with various sportsbooks.
This renaissance man is a winner of the Retired Boxers Foundation's "Dignity Award" and a member of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame; graduate of the University of
Miami (Florida) who currently resides in the South Florida area.