Obi Toppin not surprised he was benched down the stretch of Game 1 defeat
New York’s offense was frozen down the stretch of Game 1, unable to overcome the avalanche of missed shots.
But the one player who was hitting his 3-pointers, Obi Toppin, never left the bench.
“Not at all,” Toppin said when asked if he was surprised about not playing in the final 10 minutes. “No.”
Toppin produced an encouraging performance in his first playoff start Sunday, finishing with 18 points and eight boards as the replacement for the injured Julius Randle. Still, coach Tom Thibodeau subbed out Toppin with 9:38 remaining and left himself open to second-guessing as the Knicks failed to close in a 108-101 defeat.
Instead, the Knicks used Josh Hart (0-for-4 on 3-pointers Sunday) and RJ Barrett (1-for-5) in the forward positions. The Knicks managed just three points during a five-minute stretch in the third quarter, all while Jimmy Butler — who Hart was assigned to guard — was barely moving because of an ankle sprain.
Toppin shot 4-of-11 on treys before getting pulled.
“Just matching up the way they were,” Thibodeau said when asked about not re-inserting Toppin.
Otherwise, Thibodeau was happy with Toppin’s effort.
“I thought he played very well, very well,” the coach said.
With Randle expected to play in Game 2, Toppin’s minutes will likely decrease from his 31 on Sunday.
Randle, who has sprained his ankle twice in the last month, went through a frenzied workout in Sunday’s pregame, working up a sweat with the understanding it would serve as his daily cardio because he wasn’t playing.
“I don’t know how close (he was to playing),” Thibodeau said. “I know he worked out before. I just trust him and the medical staff to make that decision. So plan both ways: a plan with him going and a plan if he didn’t go. So, once they make a decision, that’s it. You live with it and you gotta figure it out. We have more than enough.”