Not to get ahead of ourselves, but basketball is nearly back, baby! Two preseason games await our New York Knickerbockers next week. On Monday, the Knicks will host the Boston Celtics (Oct. 9, 7:30pm ET), and then the Minnesota Timberwolves come to town on Saturday (Oct. 14, 7:30pm ET).
Boston had the league’s second-best record last season, but their roster has changed since then. This summer, they parted ways with Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Malcolm Brogdon, Grant Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Mike Muscala. The Celts acquired Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue (three time Teammate of the Year) Holiday, and—hey! Svi Mykhailiuk.
Also, they sent a fleet of Brink’s trucks to Jaylen Brown’s house.
The Celtics got smaller with the Time Lord trade. Although injury-prone, Williams was a decent big when available (7.3 PPG, 6.9 RPG lifetime). Make no mistake, Boston’s top six is a formidable crew, with Holiday, Brown, Jayson Tatum, Porzingis, Al Horford, and Derrick White off the bench. But the starting frontcourt of Porzingis and Horford might be rickety, with injury for one and age for the other. Boston is bound to hunt for another center as the season rolls on.
Remember when Immanuel Quickley went Super Mario on Beantown last March? 38 points. Good times:
Four reasons why this will be a Knicks’ win: their big men will kick ass on the glass; Boston is still getting to know each other; NY has greater bench depth; and Thibs treats preseason tilts like game seven of the NBA Finals. BONUS: Brown still can’t dribble with his left hand.
We’re golden. Prediction: With less work to do down low, Julius Randle will heave a bunch of threes. Knicks by ten.
Expect some fight from the T’Wolves in the bookend game. As Jon Krawczynski wrote for The Athletic, “Some teams can ease their way into the preseason, leaning on their identities and systems to be able to click into place so they can preserve their legs until the games start to matter. The way coach Chris Finch sees it, the Minnesota Timberwolves are not one of those teams.”
Minnesota played hard and squashed the Dallas Mavericks 111-99 in their preseason opener on Thursday. Karl-Anthony Towns led the team with 20 points in 17 minutes. Anthony Edwards sat out with a left ankle sprain.
In their Saturday match-up, the Knicks will face more opposition in the paint with KAT and Rudy Gobert afoot. Due to lane cloggage, this could be the game where we see what our shooters can do beyond the arc, primarily Quentin Grimes, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, and Immanuel Quickley.
The Wolves and Knicks split their 2022-23 contests. Last March, New York lost 140-134 in a game when Taurean Prince saw the face of God and went 12-for-13 from the floor, 8-for-8 from deep. Randle’s career-high 57 points was all for naught.
Never fear. Prince has fled the hinterlands for sunny LA, and Edwards might sit again to rest his hoof. Prediction: New York wraps up their first week of preseason hoops with a 2-0 record. Knicks by five.