The Knicks’ season got off to a surprisingly hot start Friday night as they trounced the Miami Heat 104-84 in front of a raucous, energized Madison Square Garden. Though it wasn’t the start that the team had planned – their original scheduled season-opener in Brooklyn was postponed due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy – an extra day’s rest playing in front of a strictly home crowd may have been exactly what the team needed.
The Knicks jumped out to a dominant first quarter and never looked back as Miami’s usual defensive intensity waned under a crisp New York offense that found the bottom of the net time and time again. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 30 points and 10 rebounds; Raymond Felton commanded the offense masterfully dropping 14 points (3-7 shooting from three-point land) and 9 assists; Steve Novak caught fire in the second half, dropping 17 points.
On Sunday, the also-undefeated Philadelphia 76ers will venture into MSG for a matinee game.
The Sixers have only played one game as well – a nine-point home victory over the Denver Nuggets. The Sixers are still without Andrew Bynum, which is a good thing for the Knicks. In their win last Wednesday, the Sixers were led by a 16-point performance by Spencer Hawes, while four other players scored in double-figures. Similar to previous years, the Sixers’ offense will be very team-based while their perimeter defense continues its stingy ways.
Last season, the Knicks took the season series 2-1, though each game felt like it was played by a different Knicks team. This year, both New York and Philadelphia return to the floor with different teams than last year. The Knicks acquired multiple new bodies through free agency, while the Clippers came away with Bynum, Jason Richardson, and Nick Young as major trade pieces and signings.
With Tyson Chandler only probable to play because of the flu (either playing the Miami Heat or the idea of playing the Heat makes Tyson sick), we may see Marcus Camby get off the bench after not playing at all on Friday. Tyson’s status could make a big impact for the Knicks as he is still their defensive anchor. Should Tyson miss the game or be very limited, the Knicks may have trouble containing the Sixers, who will not potent on offense, still possess a number of players capable of putting up big numbers. If both teams are healthy, still expect a defensive grind and minimal effective offense.
The game begins at 12 ET.