The New York Knicks have picked up three consecutive wins this week against the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic, and Golden State Warriors. This was following a five-game losing streak, as they now have a .500 win percentage on the season and are just 2.5 games back in the Atlantic Standings. The recent success comes on the back of three stellar defensive performances, completely controlling the Warriors in the 119-104 win.

Thanks to a stellar performance from RJ Barrett, putting up 28 points, a career-high, and recording five assists, the Knicks walked away with an impressive win. Point guard Elfrid Payton limited Steph Curry with his aggressive defense, and Julius Randle picked up 16 points and 17 rebounds.

Their outing against Golden State sparked motivating words from opposing head coach Steve Kerr, who was impressed by Tom Thibodeau’s team and their relentless defense.

“It’s a typical Thibs team,’’ Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Defending like crazy. They’re building a foundation.”

When the season started, nobody expected the Knicks to be this competitive, but Thibodeau has a way of turning lackluster teams into playoff-contending ones. While the Knicks are far from that reality, they are taking significant steps forward, and it does prove one thing, winning does help player development.

Just take a look at Barrett, who posted a career-high in points and connected on 10-of-17 shots from the field. This is the best he’s looked since entering the NBA last year, and it’s incredibly motivating to see him with confidence.

Despite winning three consecutive games, Thibodeau understands that work needs to be done. The confidence and motivation needs to continue, not stagnate, when things go well for a few days. Winning isn’t a temporary success, it is a consistent goal and one that you can never stop striving for as a professional athlete. The Knicks are getting a taste of their hard work paying off, but they need to continue if they want to retain this feeling.

“We got a lot of work to do,’’ Thibodeau said. “We can’t feel good. There’s things we’ve done well. We’ve had some good wins. We’ve also had games we could’ve played a lot better in. We have to be honest with ourselves and know there’s a lot of work to be done but we’re improving and doing a lot better.”

This article first appeared on Empire Sports Media and was syndicated with permission.

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