Happy opening night eve! It’ll be great to finally see some meaningful basketball tomorrow, but unfortunately the Knicks aren’t in action until Wednesday. Read on to see what else they have on their plate for the upcoming week.
The New York Knicks still have a ton to figure out heading in to the 2013-14 season. Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin, and J.R. Smith all didn’t make their preseason debuts until the final exhibition game, leaving Mike Woodson with his work cut out for him as far as establishing roles and tinkering with lineups goes. How productive can STAT be on a 20-minute per game restriction? After a shaky preseason, can Andrea Bargnani win over the fans? On the flip side, after a successful preseason, did Tim Hardaway Jr. earn himself any floor time? Will Iman Shumpert emerge as the second option next to Carmelo Anthony? There is a lot to be learned about this season’s team, and starting Wednesday we’ll begin to have some of these questions answered.
Woodson certainly has a lot on his plate to kick off the year, and so do the Knicks, as they begin with a back-to-back against two Central Division opponents. Don’t forget that they will be without J.R.’s services for this week and most of next because of a five-game suspension for violating the NBA drug policy.
In case you’ve been on an NBA hiatus all summer, here are a couple of links to help you get all caught up:
Wednesday – 7:30pm (MSG) – vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The fully transformed Madison Square Garden was unveiled in the preseason finale, but this will be the first meaningful basketball game in the arena’s new era. The Knicks were pestered by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis last year against Milwaukee, but with both of those guys signing elsewhere over the summer, this year’s Bucks roster is rather gutted out. There was a point in time where it seemed like J.R. was a lock to sign in Milwaukee, but eventually New York won over his heart. Last season’s Sixth Man of the Year won’t be around to help the Knicks to victory, but their overall depth and home court advantage should be enough to get them the win regardless.
Thursday – 8:00pm (TNT) – at Chicago Bulls
I’m sure that all of the Knicks players returning from last season have had this game marked on their calendar since the moment the schedule came out. The Bulls embarrassed New York last year, winning all four match ups and proving to be too physical for the Knicks. Derrick Rose showed to be totally unphased by his ACL tear during the preseason, so it will be up to Shump to try and keep him from exploding offensively. Shump vs. D-Rose will be a matchup to keep your eye on for years to come.
Sunday – 7:30pm (MSG) – vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
All of the clamoring for the Knicks to acquire Ricky Rubio has been done for quite some time now, but it’s still beyond entertaining to watch him play. Coupled with All-Star Kevin Love, they form one of the more exciting duos in the league. The Timberwolves might catch some teams by surprise this year, at least when they’re full healthy, which they definitely will be in just the third game of the season. This isn’t a game the Knicks should take lightly.