Although this game at Hartford, Connecticut was a preseason game, the atmosphere of the fans and intensity of players made it feel like a playoff game, especially with an entertaining overtime ending. The first half was dominated by the NBA players who have a few years of years of experience under their belt. For the Celtics their production didn’t come from Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Garnett (combined 25 points) but from Jeff green (missed all of last year due to heart surgery) who had 12 point including a worthy ESPN top play dunk. For the Knicks it was Carmelo Anthony who constantly attacked the basket drawing fouls and hit some jumpers - he finished with 23 points in 24 minutes. This aggressiveness is what we need to see this year. Along with Carmelo providing some offense was Tyson Chandler. This is what I’m looking forward to seeing this year because all last year, Chandler did not get enough touches. But with Jason Kidd, Felton, and Pablo Prigioni all of which are great passers, this is not going to be a problem as he finished with 16 points with at least 4 buckets coming from alley-oops. We will definitely see the offensive production this season from Chandler similar to when he was with Chris Paul in New Orleans 4 years ago.
Due to all the injuries by the Knicks – Iman Shumpert out to till January (torn ACL and MCL), Ronnie Brewer out for two more weeks (knee), Marcus Camby out for one week (strained left calf), Amare Stoudemire out day to day (bruised Knee), JR Smith also out day to day (minor ankle sprain), and Chris Smith out 3-6 months (knee), we saw a lot of playing time by the Knicks Rookies. While starter James White, Michael Thomson and John Shurna did not provide any offense for the Knicks (combined 3-16), Chris Copeland was a different story. He came into the game mid-3rd quarter and played the rest of the game, adding scoring and high energy to the team. The pick and roll with Pablo Prigioni was absolutely unstoppable as Copeland finished layup after layup or (dunk) and got to the foul line 7 times finishing with 21 points. This 6’9 forward reminds me of a better Renaldo Balkman – not only because of his dreadlocks but also because he could add high energy off the bench and finishes well in transition around the rim.
Whether it was Chandler getting the alley-oops in the first half or Chris Copeland coming off the pick and roll and finishing for layups in the second half, this point guard trio is fun to watch. This is the first time in a while that we have points guards that we can trust will move the ball around and offset any stagnancy in the offense coming from Anthony when he isloates or J.R Smith when he;s creating his own shot.
The one thing that worried me about this game was how poorly the Knicks shot - they went 3-29 from beyond the arc and 33-92 in total. After coming off of a 7-7 performance from Novak against the Washington Wizards, he only connected on 1 three on 6 attempts. The reason why this worries me is how much we depend on the three – it’s in the Knicks blood to shoot a whopping 30 shots from three a game, and its a great tool when they shoot well such as the 18-33 performance against he wizards. bBut when they have those bad shooting nights, it could really mess up the whole game.
Overall, this was a great game to see the youngsters work with the veteran point guards and see Camrelo and Felton playing well together. We have still yet to see the full Knicks starting lineup due to Stoudmire being out with an injury, so this is definitely something to watch for in the next few preseason games.