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‘We nudged it up a little bit’ – Boston Herald


Tom Thibodeau was coy about his new goal for 3-point attempts, but the number is certainly ambitious.

“Forty-two is a little low,” Thibodeau responded Monday when a reporter floated it.

How about 45?

“Still low,” the coach said.

While digesting last season’s playoffs, Thibodeau saw the most successful teams were releasing treys at a higher rate. Three of the four Conference finalists — the Mavericks, Warriors and Celtics — finished in the top-4 of 3-point attempts in the postseason.

Since the playoffs are often a precursor to trends, Thibodeau decided to increase his demand from last season’s goal of 37 to 40 3-point shots.

“We nudged it up a little bit,” he said.

Raising that number has been an aspiration from Thibodeau since he took the gig over two years ago, when the Knicks finished the 2019-20 season as the 29th ranked team in the NBA with just 28.4 3-point attempts per game.

“I saw where we ranked in terms of 3-point shooting. So the first thing was — right now we’re not giving ourselves a chance to win because we’re at such a deficit,” Thibodeau said. “We didn’t take enough, we didn’t make enough. So that was the biggest thing — let’s close that gap.”

There wasn’t much improvement in Thibodeau’s first campaign. The Knicks shocked the NBA by finishing 10 games over .500 but their success was built on defense and keeping the scores low.

Last season was a big jump to 36.9 3-point attempts, but the Knicks floundered defensively and fell out of the play-in tournament.

This season, the Knicks averaged 37.5 3-point attempts in their opening two games. Thibodeau wants more.

“Mathematically, we have to be at a certain number for us to have a chance to win,” he said.

Much of this is about pace. The faster the Knicks play, the more possessions it accumulates. Increased 3-pointers are a byproduct.

It’s a formula for high-scoring games, which seemingly undermines Thibodeau’s reputation as a defensive specialist.

But Thibodeau understands the final score isn’t determined by style points.

“I know how it works in this league. Everyone wants to put you into some box,” he said. “You’re an offensive guy, you’re a defensive guy, you’re a player development guy. Whatever it might be. I just want to win. I know I’ve been put into this box. I have no problem with it. But I’ve had top-5 offenses, too. I think if you understand defense, you also understand where the holes in the defense are, where you can attack the holes in the defense. And that’s one of the advantages I think you do gain.

“I don’t care if it’s slow, fast or medium. I just want to make sure we have more than them at the end.”



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