There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of a new Knicks season.
You sleep a little easier at night. It’s comforting knowing the orange and blue will be back on the hardwood soon. Sometimes it’s not the actual product on the court that you miss, either. You’re getting ready to reunite with some old buddies that you haven’t seen in a couple months. Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier haven’t welcomed you back to the broadcast booth for a while. Mike Walczewski hasn’t announced any player intros over the PA for a couple months, and Ray Castoldi’s organ has been collecting dust in the backrooms of the Garden.
Tonight might not have been the official beginning of the season, but regardless. It’s good to be back. Let the season commence.
The Knicks returned last year’s starting lineup of Jalen Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson against a Celtics squad resting its top six players. From the jump, it was obvious that this wasn’t going to be indicative of a typical regular season game. As such, New Yorkers were expecting some smooth sailing to start off the preseason.
The beginning of the game went according to plan. The first unit was immediately clicking. Jalen Brunson looked just as sharp as we left him, scoring 10 points in his first six minutes (and last six minutes) of the game. The Knicks’ starting lineup bounced out to an early double-digit advantage.
With a cushiony lead, Coach Thibs trotted out a new-look bench five onto the floor later in the quarter. The preseason is a time for experimenting, and experiment Thibodeau did. Josh Hart wasn’t playing, so Jericho Sims saw minutes at the four next to Mitch. Even Evan Fournier escaped from the doghouse for some early minutes. But alas… this lineup was uninspiring. The lead evaporated in a blink of an eye. The spacing looked poor, and the Celtics were picking on the Knicks on the other end of the floor. It’s always a treat to see Tom Thibodeau play around with his lineups, but attempt number one of the preseason was not impressive.
Despite a deficit at the end of quarter number one, the ship steadied as the Knicks starters subbed back in (sans Brunson). The offense was still looking sloppy, but a pair of threes from Barrett and Grimes gave the good guys a six-point lead going into the half.
The latter half of the game was played without Randle, Brunson, or Barrett. As a result, some other Knicks finally showed up. Immanuel Quickley had 14 in the third frame.
Mitchell Robinson looked like a man amongst boys in the second half. Check out this ridiculous sequence:
Donte DiVincenzo introduced himself to the Big Apple with back to back triples.
Despite this, the Celtics clawed their way back into the game, tying the score at 80 apiece with 2:53 left in the third. But the threes started to fall for New York, and they would never look back, keeping at least two possessions ahead for the last 11 minutes of the game. Every Knick on the floor made a contribution one way or another, and Boston stayed at arm’s length as a result of a well-balanced effort down the stretch. While the Celtics made one last push in the last four minutes, Jacob Toppin helped put the game away with four late points. Ultimately, the Knicks were able to escape with a win.
Again, it’s game one in the preseason, and it sure wasn’t pretty. But a win is always nice.
- Credit to the Celtics who got an opportunity tonight. Payton Pritchard played like a man who deserved 30 million dollars. Dudes like Dalano Banton, Neemias Queta, and Knicks legend Svi Mykhailiuk competed and executed against NBA players.
- The Celtics show up early and often on the New York schedule, and it’ll be interesting to see how the matchups play out. The Knicks meet them on October 17th in another preseason rumble in Boston, then it’s back to Manhattan eight days later to open up the regular season.
- There was no Josh Hart or Ryan Arcidiacono tonight, although both remain healthy. The all-Nova lineup will have to wait.
- Six minutes for Brunson tonight. Sounds like FIBA action kept him in tip-top shape.
- The RJ Barrett free throw exhibition was on display this evening. 9-of-9 from the line. Soak it up while it lasts, everyone.
- It’s good to see Evan Fournier knock down some threes, even if it is the preseason. The guy belongs in an NBA rotation.
- I know he didn’t play tonight, but whenever Kristaps Porzingis comes back to the Garden, my heart hurts a little. But only a little. Weird to say he’s a Celtic now.
Heart Like John Starks reacted to the initial injury report the same as the rest of us. “So the entire Celtics starting 5 is out?” Yes, Heart Like John Starks, they were. We learned nothing meaningful from this game. But the Knicks were on, dammit, so we watched.
Glad to be part of the P&T team this season! The Wolves come to town on Saturday. See you all then!