One down, 81 more to go.
The Knicks won their season opener against the Bucks on Wednesday night, but they certainly didn't make it easy on themselves.
Playing some really exciting basketball to kick things off, New York began charging past Milwaukee and built up a 25 point lead. Was this a result of everything simply clicking for the Knicks, or could such a lead simply be attributed to the fact that the Bucks will be a much weaker team this coming season?
It's probably a mix of both, but that didn't stop the Knicks from relinquishing such a lead and allowing the game to be on the line in the final minutes. Such a let down on both ends of the floor is something fans should and could be used to by now, even under Coach Mike Woodson. More often that not, New York has trouble truly stepping on the neck of their opponent to close things out.
But nevertheless, they were able to regain control and earn the victory on day one. The player of the game was undoubtedly Tyson Chandler, who came roaring and soaring Milwaukee's way late in the contest to help shut them down. The big man helped the Knicks command control of the game once again, and finished with 10 points, 6 boards, and 5 blocks. He looked a bit more assertive on offense, and as physical as ever defensively, too.
Aside from Chandler, there were some bright spots for New York, but alas, some darker highlights too. Committing 22 turnovers, the Knicks by no means looked like the calm and collected squad they put on the floor last season. That said, it appeared to be a result of some ongoing miscommunication between players to start off the season, much more so than poor play from the team's floor generals.
In fact, point guard play was arguably a point (no pun intended) of positivity for the Knicks. Pablo Prigioni earned the start and made the most of it, playing in New York's chosen smaller lineup. He was that pestering defender we've all come to love (and opponents love to hate), and was also more aggressive on offense. Such a tone from Prigioni was good to see. He finished with 7 points, 5 assists, and came up with 3 steals. Beno Udrih struggled a bit (compared to a guy like Pablo), but even he looked a bit more comfortable than he appeared in preseason. It'll take time.
Raymond Felton was absolutely fantastic. His 18 points were exactly the type of injection of life New York needed with J.R. Smith sitting the first of five games (due to suspension) out. Carmelo Anthony added 19 points, but struggled from the field and even appeared to fade away into the (offensive) background in the second half. That was surprising.
But the likes of Felton and Iman Shumpert (who scored 16 points of his own) definitely helped down the stretch. It's good to know the Knicks still have such sources of firepower to lean on if necessary. That said, one source that appeared otherwise extinguished was Andrea Bargnani. There's still time, and this is not the day to jump to conclusions, but there's no denying the big man looked lost on the court. He'll need to adjust sooner than later if New York desires to utilize him as a secondary scoring option next to Anthony.
The Knicks let up (way) too much in this game, but not enough for the Bucks rob them of an opening night victory. Hopefully they'll be able to take more control of contests going forward.