Since staring at the schedule isn’t making the 2013-14 season get any closer, TOK is breaking down the New York Knicks’ games by division . We continue with the Central Division.
Last Year: Teams split regular season series, 2-2. Pacers defeated Knicks in Eastern Conference Semifinals, 4-2
This Year: Home – November 20, March 19; @Indiana – January 16
What To Expect: The Knicks will certainly be looking for some vengeance after last season’s elimination at the hands of the young, tough, talented and well-coached Pacers. Indiana is going to be a very popular pick in the Eastern Conference this season, and rightly so. While the East has improved – Brooklyn is better, Chicago should be better with Derrick Rose back – Indiana has a legitimate claim as the second best team in the conference behind Miami. Hell, the could have beaten the Heat in the East Finals a year ago, and this season they get Danny Granger back, have Paul George entering his prime and Roy Hibbert coming off a break-out postseason. In terms of specifically Pacers-Knicks? This is where the small minority of those who liked the Andrea Bargnani trade will look to be proven right. In the postseason, the Knicks couldn’t pull Hibbert out of the paint at all. Bargnani may help with that (although on the other side of the floor, yikes).
Last Year: All Bulls. They mercilessly swept the Knicks.
This Year: Home – December 11, April 13; @Chicago – October 31, March 2
What To Expect: Like the Pacers, the Bulls were a very good young team who is only going to get better this season. For the bulls, it’s mainly because former MVP Derrick Rose will be back. The Bulls give the Knicks absolute fits (gee, when has that ever happened before?). Unlike a lot of the lower-echelon teams in the league that the Knicks seem to score at will on, the Bulls tend to rope the Knicks into their type of game and slow things down. It’s interesting to note that, given the Bulls were 29th out of 30 teams in scoring last season, that they surpassed the 100 point mark in three of the four games against the Knicks. They should have a much more efficient offense with Rose back at the controls. This is a tough matchup that appears to only be getting tougher. We won’t have to wait long to see, as the Knicks head to Chicago on Halloween in the second game of the season. Frightening!
Last Year: Knicks swept season series, 4-0, including one game in London.
This Year: Home – January 7; @Detroit – November 19, March 3
What To Expect: The Pistons are one of the many teams in the East who should be fighting for one of the final playoff seeds. Detroit has a very talented roster for the first time in years. Hopping on board this season are Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, two pretty polarizing but nonetheless gifted players. Jennings (a Knick killer) hasn’t been a very efficient player throughout his young career, but it’s possible a change of scenery can help, as may the presence of Chauncey Billups as a veteran/leader backup. Where the Pistons have a chance to be scary good – and could hurt the Knicks in their games – is their front line. We mentioned Smith, but Andre Drummond has a chance to be one of the league’s breakout players this season, now that he’ll be on a competitive team. A lot of people don’t know how good he is, but I think that changes this season.
Last Year: Knicks swept 3-0
This Year: Home – October 30, March 15; @Milwaukee: December 18, February 3
What To Expect: The Bucks will likely be fighting for the 8 seed, as they always seem to be. They’ve made some solid additions, like O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal and Caron Butler, but they lack a legitimate, but we’ve seen how a team who’s best offensive threat is O.J. Mayo fares. Larry Sanders is one of the league’s best rebounders and defenders, but like his Knicks counterpart Tyson Chandler, doesn’t create much offense for himself if any at all. This is a bit of a strangely constructed roster to this point; there’s some depth there, but how is it all going to mesh. That seemed to always be a problem with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but there are similar positional logjams all over the current roster. As for how the Knicks match up with them? I’m not sure who’s guarding Carmelo Anthony on this team.
Last Year: Knicks swept season series, 3-0
This Year: Home – January 30, March 23; @Cleveland – December 10, March 8
What To Expect: The sexy pick for the….6 seed? Most of the love coming the Cavs’ way will be because of Kyrie Irving, and rightly so. He’s up there among the best scoring point guards in the league, and you’d expect his assist and efficiency numbers to rise as he gets more years under his belt. And then there’s Andre Bynum. If he’s healthy and plays well, they’re very much in the mix for the sixth seed. If he can’t stay healthy, the Cavs are pretty thin up front outside of Anderson Varejao (depending on how rookie Anthony Bennett plays…you tell me because I haven’t the slightest clue).