On paper, the New York Knicks must be feeling good. They just won Game 2 of their second round series against the Indiana Pacers and hold a 2-0 lead over their opponents.

But, if you’ve been following Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s career, you know that this may not end well for the boys in white, blue and orange. The latest warning sign came from OG Anunoby, who left the court Game 2 with a hamstring injury and didn’t return. 

This happened AFTER Jalen Brunson had a freak injury that thankfully didn’t take him out of the entire contest.


Anunoby was playing like a star before he went down, as he had 28 points, four rebounds, three assists and a block while shooting 10 of 19 from the field. It was good that the rest of his teammates toughed it out, but early warning signs are starting to pop up about how the rest of their campaign will end up going.

Thibodeau has long-been known to ride his favorite players until their bodies break and nothing has changed during his stint in the Big Apple. That goes against the entire philosophy of extending player longevity that most franchises have fallen in love with, which makes sense considering how much a top NBA star makes.

While Thibodeau’s  old-school philosophy has taken them far, it does put the Knicks on a very thin ice when it comes to being able to survive the grind of a deep playoff run. His rotations are brutal, and Game 2 is a perfect example:

OG Anunoby – 28 minutes (left game injured)

Jalen Brunson – 32 minutes (returned from injury)

Isaiah Hartenstein – 39 minutes

Josh Hart – 48 minutes

Donte DiVincenzo – 43 minutes

Precious Achiuwa – 28 minutes

Miles McBride – 20 minutes

Alec Burks – 1 minute

Although sports medicine has advanced leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades, what a lot of people don’t take into account is how much harder the NBA game has become too. There are way more defensive rotations to be made to counter the modern emphasis on three-pointers and ball movement, which takes a toll on players. 

Josh Hart, as tough as he may be, can’t be expected to come out of a playoff run unscathed if he keeps playing entire games. Hart’s the ultimate hustle player, as shown by his 19 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, one steal and one block in Game 2, but he’s definitely going to be aching tomorrow. Same goes for Donte DiVincenzo, who was effective with 28 points, six rebounds and four assists in 43 minutes. 

I’ve got to say, though, not everyone, including his own players, seems to hate Thibodeau’s philosophy.

Hell, even Brunson shrugged off his injury in the postgame interview.

Personally, I think that athletes who make generational money should play as many minutes as they can. It’s not pretty, but these guys have guaranteed contracts and you rarely get any real chances at winning the NBA title. All of the injury management in the world hasn’t saved Kawhi Leonard, whose body has continued to break down after he won the title with the Toronto Raptors.

Even then, I still find Coach Thibs’ methods a little extreme. I’m enjoying watching the Knicks being relevant again, but I worry for his players. I hope Anunoby comes back strong for Game 3 but, as James Harden proved with the Brooklyn Nets a couple of seasons ago, coming back from a hamstring injury isn’t easy.