PORTLAND, Ore. — When David Fizdale finished his last practice session as coach of the Knicks he talked about lineup changes he was planning, saying he was considering moves at all of the spots. But when he was dismissed and Mike Miller took over, the lineup has remained in place.
In Miller’s first game as coach against Indiana Saturday Frank Ntilikina got the start, but Elfrid Payton, in just his second game back from a hamstring strain that sidelined him for 17 games, played the entire fourth quarter and finished with nine points, seven assists and three steals. But Miller has stuck with Ntilikina.
“I think part of it is we’ve gotten off to good starts,” Miller said. “How the guys are playing together is a big piece in there. They’re starting to play off of each other and seeing things so that’s where we’re at right now. It can change. We may play a game someday and say ‘This is a better starting matchup’ or ‘This is a better second-unit matchup or ‘This group’s scoring better,’ we may shuffle things around at some point but tonight we’re going to stay with it.”
One change that the Knicks hope will come with the ascension of Miller is improving the play of Julius Randle, who has struggled with turnovers and inefficient play since joining the Knicks as a free agent this summer.
Part of the problem is simply that as a focus of the Knicks offense he has taken on a more demanding role and found that defenses are plotted to stop him rather than having him play alongside an Anthony Davis or some other star.
“Yeah, I hope so man. I hope so. I just got to keep working through this process . . . My approach doesn’t change. We’re doing a few different things. A little bit different positions in the short time we’ve had the coaching change. But my mindset and how I approach and prepare for the game doesn’t change at all. There’s a little bit more movement, spacing, that type of stuff. New sets, stuff like that. Trying to open up things a little bit more.
“It’s good but Fiz did a great job too, trying to make adjustments. Coach Mike is doing an amazing job with the opportunity he has. Being put in the position he’s put in, he’s done an amazing job. Guys are responding and buying in.”