Opening night of the NBA season is just like my senior prom. Everyone dresses up, everybody’s a little nervous, and I’ll be home thinking about the Knicks. Here’s what we have to look forward to this week.
Opening Night: Knicks vs Celtics, Wed., Oct. 25, 7:00 PM EST, ESPN
New York and Boston split their preseason match-ups, one win apiece. In each game, the losers rested their starters.
There’s nothing new to say about Boston after all our preseason coverage. If the recalibrated Celtics—now with Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis—can stay on the court and off the stretcher, they stand a good chance of losing in the NBA Finals. The Knicks underwelmed in the preseason, but maybe they were conserving their energy for game one? Let’s hope.
New York won three of four games against the Celts in 2022-23. This time around, splitting their season series seems a more realistic goal, at least based on their preseason performance. As for Wednesday night, the Knicks will win a tight contest, in front of a delirious MSG crowd.
Friday: Knicks at Hawks, Oct. 27, 7:30 PM EST, MSG
The Knicks tallied a 2-2 record versus the Hawks in 2022-23. While New York looks mostly unchanged, Atlanta has shuffled their deck a bit.
This summer, Atlanta traded John Collins (oft-rumored to be a target for New York), which has opened a door for Onyeka Okongwu to step through. The Hawks extended Dejounte Murray and will once again pair him with Trae Young in the backcourt. Both are capable scorers, as are teammates Bogdan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, and AJ Griffin, and this past offseason, Atlanta added Patty Mills and Wesley Matthews, too. This year’s draft selection, Kobe Bufkin, is a promising, but unpolished, shooter from Michigan.
The Hawks are talented enough to knock on the postseason door. We’ll see if coach Quin Snyder, in his first full year, can lead them there. They are bound to shoot a ton of threes on Friday, and through the preseason, the Knicks’ perimeter defense was less effective than Trae Young’s Rogaine treatments. If New York still plays loose coverage, and can’t clear the way for Quentin Grimes to fire away, it could be a rainy night in Georgia for the visitors.
Saturday: Knicks at Pelicans, Oct. 28, 7:00 PM EST, MSG, NBA TV
Much has been made of the fact that in four years, Zion Williamson has played only 114 of 308 possible games. That’s 37%. To the Pelicans’ relief, the big fella is healthy to start the season and his jersey fits again. The stage is set for a make-or-break Zion year. If he plays to his potential, he could carry the Pels on his beefy shoulders into the playoffs.
A meniscus injury will sideline Trey Murphy III for significant time, which disappointed plans for TM3 following a career-best season. Brandon Ingram had an outstanding season in 2022-23, averaging a career-high 24.7 points per game. Like Immanuel Quickley, he has an upcoming deadline to get an extension signed. An All-NBA recognition this season would make a supermax extension possible during the 2024 offseason.
Since joining the Pels in 2022, vet McCollum has only played 10 games with BI and Big Boy. If the main guys stay healthy, and Trey Murphy III recovers in time, the Birds could win 40+ games and secure a postseason spot. If things don’t go well, prepare for lots of Zion trade talk.
The Knicks posted a record of 1-1 against the Pelicans in 2022-23. They should win, or at least split, the series this season, starting with a victory on Saturday.
Enjoy the weekend, folks. On Tuesday you’ll get an introduction to the Posting and Toasting team—some new faces, some vets, one tired looking old guy. Then the crew will confess our hopes, dreams, predictions, and fears for the upcoming season. Fun stuff, guaranteed. Join us.