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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Knicks switch out Precious Achiuwa for Jericho Sims at backup center spot

Tom Thibodeau made a rotational shift in Saturday’s 105-93 victory over the Nets, replacing Precious Achiuwa with Jericho Sims at the backup center spot. 

The coach said the tactic was dependent on the need for strength, perhaps not coincidentally after the Knicks were bullied and outrebounded by the Nuggets in a loss two days prior. 

“I thought the physicality was what we needed,” Thibodeau said. “And so that’s the only reason why we did that.” 

Jericho Sims, who had seven rebounds, defends Nic Claxton during the Knicks’ 105-93 win over the Nets. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
Paolo Banchero slams the ball over Precious Achiuw. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Sims went scoreless but was a boost defensively, especially in the second half. He grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes and the Knicks won the battle of the boards, 47-41. 

Achiuwa, who had been logging heavy time in February and some of March, was limited to eight minutes. It was his shortest stint since Jan. 17. 

“Whoever’s got it going, that’s where we’re going,” Thibodeau said. “Some nights it’s not your night, it’s someone else’s night and then you put the team first. Everyone sacrifices. And that’s really what we’ve done all year.” 

The Knicks replaced Precious Achiuwa with Jericho Sims at the backup center spot.  Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

The last time OG Anunoby was injured, Achiuwa stepped into a starting spot at power forward. This time — with Anunoby dealing with a “flare-up” in his surgically repaired elbow — Thibodeau moved Josh Hart to power forward and started Miles McBride. 

The Knicks are 2-1 with that configuration, which Thibodeau said was based on the opposition having potent perimeter threats. 

“I have a lot of confidence in Precious,” Thibodeau said.

“He’s done a great job for us. I love the fact that he can play two positions. I think he can guard multiple positions. It allows you to do a lot of switching. So it was more the matchup of, OK, who are we looking at in the Golden State game? We’re looking at Curry (necessitating McBride to be in the lineup to chase him around). And then with Brooklyn, you’re looking at Cam Thomas who has been rolling.” 

Miles McBride Robert Sabo for NY Post

On Saturday, McBride helped hold Thomas to 19 points with five turnovers. The Nets were minus-29 with Thomas on the court, and McBride never left the court with 48 minutes. 

Julius Randle again pushed himself into a sweat before the game, shooting and sprinting with a trainer as he pushes for a return from a dislocated shoulder.

He hasn’t yet taken contact. 

Mitchell Robinson, who is back to full practice following ankle surgery, also warmed up with assistant coach Othella Harrington. 

Anunoby wasn’t present on the MSG court before tipoff or in the locker room when media was allowed inside, however.

Thibodeau said in his pregame press conference that he wasn’t sure if Anunoby could practice. 

“It’s hard to say,” Thibodeau said. “I haven’t seen him. He’s doing better so just let it calm down and go from there.”

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