As far as preseason goes, it’s hard to get games more exciting than last night’s. Preseason games can often get bogged down by sloppy play, frequent rotations, and blowouts. Last night’s game appeared to be heading in that direction with the New York Knicks carrying a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, both teams playing their training camp invites. As we should expect as New York Knicks fans, that lead wouldn’t last.
Last time the Knicks faced the Boston Celtics (Game 6 of the playoffs), the regular rotation players did the exact same thing to the Knicks. New York got complacent with a big lead, and Boston stole the momentum with hounding defense and precise offense. This time around, it was the end of the benches dueling it out. This one got close, with Boston taking a 102-101 lead over the Knicks with less than 15 seconds to go.
Luckily, the Knicks’ first round pick, Tim Hardaway Jr. came to save the day. Watch:
Hardaway Jr. was extremely impressive last night. In 25 minutes in his first NBA game, he tossed in 16 points on 6-10 shooting, 3-5 from three-point range, and 3 rebounds. He got regular burn with the sure-fire rotation players and looked like he’d fit just fine.
One game is nothing to go crazy over, but what Hardaway displayed in the Knicks’ first preseason game of the year looked like something he could excel at all season. Hardaway rarely over-extended himself in last night’s game, which is a good role for him to adopt in the NBA. He’ll never be relied upon this season to be the Knicks’ primary scorer, so instead, he should focus on catch-and-shoots and basic offensive moves that could get him good looks. Very few of his shots looked forced, and in the second half when he really found his rhythm, his stroke looked smooth and confident coming in the flow of the game.
On defense, Hardaway Jr. also looked competent, which is a compliment considering the Knicks’ team defense last night. 102 points to a Celtics group without a single above-average scorer is pretty abysmal. Still, in man-to-man coverage, Hardaway Jr. showed quick feet, instinctual reactions, and a strong core that helped him match-up with drivers.
It was on game, but analyzing more of Hardaway Jr.’s game is definitely something to look forward to in the coming games.
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