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Wednesday’s 137-127 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks marked the Knicks’ eighth straight win, moving the team to 33-27 on the season, good for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
A year after going 21-45 and looking lost as a franchise, the Knicks have turned things around in unbelievable fashion, thanks in no small part to head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has instilled a defensive mindset and hard-nosed energy to a franchise that was desperately in need of a spark.
The 63-year-old Thibodeau would seem like a clear front-runner for the NBA’s Coach of the Year Award.
Just ask RJ Barrett.
"He better be in the running," Barrett said when asked Wednesday if Thibodeau should be considered as Coach of the Year. "We all believe in Thibs. Thibs has been doing a tremendous job turning everything around, the way he has us playing hard every single night, and we're getting wins.
“From him to the whole staff, night in and night out, every day working hard, just pushing and pushing. It’s just a great feeling. I'm sure the fans see how hard we're working and having them in the Garden has been great overall. The whole Knicks organization has just been great."
Thibodeau has been a winner throughout his head coaching career, with an overall record of 385-273 in Chicago, Minnesota, and now New York. He won Coach of the Year with the Bulls in 2010-11, when the Bulls went 62-20 and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Time will tell how far the Knicks can go under Thibodeau’s leadership, but there’s not much doubting that his first season as Knicks head coach has been one of his most impressive ventures to date.