Rejoice! Tonight is the first of New York Knicks basketball for the next six months, at least. We made it through the offseason. After over a week of training camp, the 2013-14 Knicks are ready to hit the road. Tonight, in their first preason game of the year, they’ll take on the Boston Celtics. Let’s take a look at what to expect.
Meet the Boston Celtics
The summer of 2013 finally brought the long-awaited Celtics overhaul. They traded Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets, and essentially traded Doc Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers. And in return, the Beantown Boys got very little.
In Rivers’s place they hired former Butler coach Brad Stevens, a young, passionate coach with a bright future, but a somewhat dim outlook for the upcoming season. In the Nets trade, the Celtics got back Brooklyn scraps, including Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and MarShon Brooks. Surrounding the new faces are the leftovers, like Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Jordan Crawford, Avery Bradley, and most notably, Rajon Rondo.
Rondo, of course, isn’t ready to play yet as he recovers from knee surgery, so in the meantime, Stevens will litter the court with quite a scrapheap of players. These Celtics aren’t so much talent-less as they are leader-less, especially without Rondo. There are some pretty good supplementary players on this team, but each night will be a struggle as they search for someone to lead them through a 48-minute contest. Unless a player like Green suddenly takes a next step towards superstardom, the Celtics don’t have much of a direction other than the lottery, which they will probably be aiming for, anyway.
Safe to say, the air has been almost entirely let out of the Celtics-Knicks rivalry.
What to Expect from the Knicks
Preseason is always a hodgepodge of regular season NBA action with Summer League antics. Coaches and players obviously want to get their reps in, but there’s also a certain level of caution and lack-of-interest that makes the games at once exciting and sloppy.
For the Knicks, Mike Woodson has already stated that Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani, and Tyson Chandler will start. Due to some injuries, the Knicks’ bench will be thinner than usual, so Beno Udrih, Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace, and possibly Kenyon Martin will make up the majority of the second unit.
However, Woodson will likely exercise caution with his team, so expect the other rookies and training camp invites to get considerable minutes to show their stuff. Tim Hardaway Jr. will surely get time, perhaps even with regular rotation players, but other guys like Toure Murry, Cole Aldrich, C.J. Leslie, and Chris Smith will probably get some minutes to try and make a case for themselves.
It’ll be sloppy, and players will be rusty. That’s to be expected for the first couple of games. The Knicks are just getting their toes wet, so we should temp- I’M SO EXCITED BASKETBALL IS BACK!
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