I got goosebumps today at work. Sitting there at my computer, not only salivating over the coming matchup with the defending champs, but also just scrolling through the schedule and game after game of glorious, magical basketball. THE NBA IS BACK EVERYBODY!!
Unfortunately, so are the Knicks. And for anyone expecting the kind of opening night, spit-in-your-eye performance that kicked off the 2014 season, this was not to be the case.
The Knicks played a less than inspired game of basketball at the Q, in which Melo generated the only New York offense for much of the first quarter. It could have been relative discomfort with the new system, or a particularly opportunistic Cavs defense, but the Knicks also couldn’t give the ball away fast enough. They “led” the turnover battle with 7-0 sometime in the middle of the first quarter and finished with a remarkable 22 on the game (!!). Live-ball turnovers are always fairly crippling, but when you’re giving them to a team like Cleveland that has some serious run and dunk finishers you’re putting yourself in a serious hole. I was shocked to only be down 3 at the half.
Of course, we were only down 3 because the Cavs had shot a miserable 4/21 from 3 in the first half. I wasn’t really aware how low the percentage was while this was going on, just that Lebron’s weaponized passing vision and the Knicks’ mammoth-slow close outs had led to a bunch of open goodies. Welp, turns out that the percentage totally normalized in the second half. Cleveland worked their way back up to a respectable 37% on the game and the Cavs just BURIED New Yorks in the 3rd on even more fast break points, even more threes, and a 19 drop from Kyrie in the quarter alone.
The night wasn’t a total loss. The Knicks actually put together a nice run in the 2nd quarter with Derrick Rose slicing to the rim and Melo knocking down a couple of triples (Melo was by far our best player in this game). Porzingis showed off his unicorn flair with 3 triples and a pair of blocks and our Lithuanian Draco Malfoy put on a nice little offensive show in garbage time. The TNT crew started ripping on us almost immediately after the game was finished, but I don’t think this was a totally fair measuring stick going against the best team in the East that was super amped for their championship rings and game 1 of the World Series. Oh and Lebron James had a triple double and pretty much broke my television.
We’ll get the next one!!
For a new segment I’d like to preview a few fun games around the league that will take place between this and the next Knicks game on the schedule. Without further ado:
1.) Wednesday, October 26th – Mavericks v Pacers
Two teams reloading around their franchise players, the Pacers going all-offense and tempo while the Mavs bring in the Durant flotsam. Look for Indiana to play small and have Paul George ROAST Nowitzki.
2.) Thursday, October 27th – Celtics v Bulls
Is Boston really ready to take that leap and become the hands down 2nd best team in the East? Have they fully integrated Al Horford in what should be one of the NBA’s best 3 or 4 defenses? And how do Dwyane and Rondo really look in those Bulls uniforms?
3.) Friday, October 28th – Cavaliers v Raptors
Another Cavs game?? Well after watching Lebron James go supernova on the Knicks I’m reconsidering my Cleveland preview a little. What if this isn’t a cruise season? What if Lebron wants another MVP trophy to fill out his case and the Cavs are on the absolute warpath to shut down all the Golden State noise? We’ll see up North.