The curtain has risen on the 2023-24 NBA season. Opening night heralds a fresh start, igniting hope and offering all teams the promise of a clean slate, and a temporary tie for first place. If the 1-3 preseason record the Knicks displayed were any indication of how the 2023-24 season might play out then it could be a while until the Knicks see first place again.
The Knicks and Celtics squared off twice during the preseason, each team securing one victory. But it’s worth noting that during the initial encounter, the Celtics opted to rest their key starters, affording the Knicks a narrow 114-107 win. During the second matchup between the two teams, it was the Knicks who benched most of their starters versus a full Celtics team. Led by Jayson Tatum’s 28 points in 29 minutes the Celtics easily handled the Knicks 123-110. The Celtics ultimately finished their preseason 4-1, while the Knicks finished 1-3.
The Knicks won three out of four meetings against the Celtics last season. However, the Celtics taking the floor tonight are a significantly improved team on paper over the squad of last season who were already good enough to reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. This evening marks the Celtics debut of former New York Knicks first-round pick, Kristaps Porzingis, and 2023 All-Star Jrue Holliday. With these off-season acquisitions complementing their existing All-Stars, Tatum, and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have positioned themselves as formidable front-runners to win the Eastern Conference.
Over the course of the preseason, Jalen Brunson played a modest 45 minutes total, 25 of which were in the 4th and final game. Expect Brunson to come close to that total mark tonight. Both Knicks fans and the organization are looking to Brunson to lead the team deep into the playoffs for the second straight season.
Brunson faces a challenging test tonight, as he is set to engage in what could be an epic battle of the ones between him and Jrue Holiday. When comparing last season’s stats between the two point guards, it’s evident that Brunson emerges as the standout player with a more impressive stat line. Throughout the season, Brunson consistently shouldered the Knicks’ load, driving the team with his relentless penetration and spinning pullback moves, up until the final buzzer in Miami. He finished the season with 24 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.5 rebounds on 41.6% shooting from deep. Holliday’s stats last season of 19.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 7.4 assists earned him his first All-Star appearance. Brunson’s superior stat line did not, and there’s no doubt that he will step onto the court tonight with an added motivation to demonstrate that he was the one deserving of that All-Star selection.
G- Jrue Holliday
G- Derrick White
F- Jaylen Brown
F- Jayson Tatum
C- Kristaps Porzingis
New York Knicks:
G- Jalen Brunson
G- Quentin Grimes
F- RJ Barrett
F- Julius Randle
C- Mitchell Robinson
It’s essential to remember that the NBA season is more of a marathon than a sprint. While everyone is undoubtedly eager for a victory, not everyone anticipates the favored Celtics to stumble. A win tonight would undoubtedly make a strong statement and silence the critics who were concerned about the Knicks’ lackluster preseason. Nevertheless, win or lose, bear in mind that this is just the first game of a long season. The devoted Knicks fan in me calls for a 40-piece by Brunson that fuels the Knicks to a six-point victory 104-98. The realist in me anticipates Brunson having a stellar night regardless, but with the Celtics winning by twelve, 110-98.
The ball is set to be tipped at the Garden tonight, at 7 PM EST, in the presence of a national TV audience on ESPN.
Who: New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics
When: 7:00 pm EST, Wednesday, Oct. 25
Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC