Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Knicks reacts to a call...

Head coach Tom Thibodeau of the Knicks reacts to a call in the first half of an NBA game against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena on December 13, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Credit: Getty Images/Dave Reginek

Tom Thibodeau may hide his game plan from the public, but his players already have gotten a feel for what his preparation is like. They believed it was no accident that the second time they played the Cavaliers in the preseason, the Knicks won in blowout fashion.

"As far as Thibs, he’s definitely detail-oriented," Elfrid Payton said. "We’ll do something 100 times if he feels we’re not doing something right. The game-planning coming back after playing Cleveland, after watching film on them and kind of knowing what they were going to do, it really showed a big difference in the second game."

New normal

As they embark on this season after seeing last season cut short by the coronavirus and with the virus still raging, players and coaches realize that nothing will feel normal.

"I mean just the fact that we have to wait 30 minutes before entering the gym, having to be here earlier, that’s kind of the biggest difference," Payton said. "And obviously walking around with a mask on around the gym unless you’re on the court.’’

Unlike the 22 teams that convened for the restart of last season in a bubble environment in Orlando, the Knicks will be able to play in the usual arenas, but it will be different, with no fans allowed in the stands in all but six cities to start the season.

"Here, it’s more so about the fans with the home-court advantage," Payton said. "We don’t get to practice much in the Garden or even have shootarounds there and shoot on those rims, because there’s always something going on at the Garden. So it’s not so much the rims and the familiarity, but it’s just the fans just being in that arena, the crowd is kind of our home-court advantage."

Knicks exercise options

The Knicks exercised the third-year contract option on RJ Barrett’s deal and the fourth-year option for Kevin Knox.