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With Mitchell Robinson sidelined, Knicks may play small ball

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks over Golden State

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson dunks over Golden State center James Wiseman during the second half of an NBA game in San Francisco on Jan. 21. Credit: AP/Jeff Chiu

With Mitchell Robinson sidelined, the Knicks could look for help outside — or they could change the way that they play.

While many teams are playing with big men who work more outside on the perimeter rather than in the post, the absence of Robinson could be shifting the strategy of Tom Thibodeau.

"Yeah, I think you have to be ready for both," the Knicks coach said. "Teams are real versatile now. We’re seeing the versatility of the big guys change where you have guys with size that can put the ball on the floor, make plays, shoot the ball. Then you have teams that will downsize and go small and so I think you have to prepare for both types of lineups. That’s where we are. We knew going into the season that most teams now they’re a lot smaller at the power forward position and some teams have even gone to the five, the center, where you have to adapt and be ready for that as well."

Thibodeau said that he would be open to playing not just Nerlens Noel or Taj Gibson, but playing small, moving Julius Randle to center alongside Kevin Knox or Obi Toppin.

"Yeah, we got a look at that early on," Thibodeau said. "It’s always part of what we can do. I think in looking at what Mitch provided and what Nerlens provided, I thought that was a strength, and then maybe what Taj provides, as well. But I think Obi is playing at a high level right now, and that second group has a lot of speed and they can get up and run the floor."

Rose study time

When the game is over, some players will head to the weight room. But for Derrick Rose, while he has worked on his conditioning, reducing his weight and body fat as he grows older, he also has focused on the mental part of the game.

So when the Knicks finished off Friday’s win, Rose retreated to study, trying to continue his acclimation to the team. While he knows the system of Thibodeau, having already played for him in Chicago and Minnesota, he still was open to learning.

"Yeah, he’s a great student of the game," Thibodeau said. "He’s always had that. I think that is what has allowed him to adapt, grow and change. I think you see that with a lot of players that are dominant players. They are constantly adding to their game. So it doesn’t surprise me. I think he’s put a lot of time into trying to understand his new teammates and what their strengths are and how he can better effectively use them."

New York Sports