The wait is finally over. New York Knicks basketball is back, as they kick off their season against the rival Boston Celtics in a game that will be filled with exciting matchups.
These teams played against one another twice during the preseason, but neither time did both teams play all their starters, so this game will really show how they matchup against each other.
The Knicks will be battle-tested right away, facing a Celtics team that many predict to represent the East in this season’s NBA Finals. Boston’s offseason additions of Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis to play alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown make them one of the deepest teams in the entire league.
While Boston seems like a formidable foe, New York is not a slouch. They come into this game at full strength and with a star-studded duo of Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle while also having a deeper bench that includes newcomer Donte DiVincenzo manning the second unit with Immanuel Quickley and Josh Hart.
Any doubts about Randle’s health after undergoing offseason ankle surgery can be swept under the rug, as in their final preseason game, he dropped a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 8-15 from the floor and 4-6 from downtown.
Now that he looks to be fully healthy expect a solid performance from the tandem of Brunson and Randle while also some added insurance from third option RJ Barrett.
A player to watch for in this game is Mitchell Robinson. Robinson was dominant in the preseason, as he averaged over 10 points and eight rebounds per game while also recording over a steal and a block per game.
There’s no question about his presence underneath the rim, but one caveat to his overall game is that he tends to struggle guarding shooting bigs, thanks in part to head coach Tom Thibodeau’s drop coverage approach.
Boston’s Porzingis averaged 5.5 three-point attempts with the Wizards last season, and with his 7’2” stature allowing him to shoot over smaller defenders, Robinson is the only one that properly matches up with him, so it will be mostly on him to prevent the Latvian unicorn from heating up.
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Prediction: Knicks lose to Celtics 106-102
In what sounds like a highly pessimistic prediction for the season opener, this matchup might be too much for the Knicks to handle. The score will likely be close after the first quarter, but they might let the Celtics go on a big run in the second quarter, which will force the Knicks to play from behind in the second half.
New York was a very resilient group last season, and while they may make things interesting in the final minutes, any possible comeback will likely fall just short.
Boston is just too talented and too deep of a squad that many teams around the league are going to struggle with containing this season, and while the Knicks are a very good team themselves, they are not on the Celtics’ level yet.
The game will start at 7 p.m. EST and be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
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