By Sean Markisic
As the NBA season is finally among us, one of the first few games that stood out so far was the New York Knicks playing against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Last season, the Knicks finished fifth in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 47-35. The Knicks made a second-round appearance in the playoffs due to the strength of players Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett. Randle had his best season as a Knicks player, averaging 25.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Brunson is a newer addition to the team after only being signed by the Knicks as their point guard since last summer.
The Celtics, on the other hand, traded away key players of their team in hopes of new players joining that would help them win an NBA championship. The Celtics traded away their starting point guard of the last nine seasons, Marcus Smart, who Celtics fans have labeled as the heart and soul of their team, for Kristaps Porzingis, who played as part of the Washington Wizards last season. Porzingis is not a traditional forward in the NBA; he likes to play in a lot of space and uses his three-point shot. The Celtics also made a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers and acquired Jrue Holiday, a defender and playmaker. As a playmaker throughout his career, Holiday uses his defense to get out in transition and set up easy baskets for his teammates. Holiday takes more pressure off of Boston’s star wing duo comprised of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. By adding Porzingis and Holiday, the Boston Celtics have the potential to win big in the coming seasons.
With the Celtics being a top-tier team in the Eastern Conference, and with the Knicks on the rise, this Divisional rival game meant a lot for both teams. The Knicks and Celtics rivalry continued Wednesday night, showing a glimpse of what’s to come this season.
In the first quarter of the game, both teams started off slow, missing easy jump shots and layups. It was to be expected that both teams would be rusty since it was only the first regular season game.
However, the offense picked up in the second quarter for both teams. Tatum started to knock down easy looks for Boston. In addition, Porzingis drove to the hoop, also spacing the floor and shooting the three-ball.
For the Knicks, Randle under-performed as he was five for 22 from the field. This sort of game is not uncommon for him. When Randle doesn’t fall, he struggles to find other ways to be effective in a game. The Knicks must find a consistent pattern of production when Randle is a non-factor in the game. As great as Brunson is as a point guard, Randle is still the number one option when the game comes down to the stretch.
The Celtics have aspirations of winning an NBA championship, but they still have a lot to figure out with their new additional pieces and how they fit with the team. This game was a good first step for them as Boston ended up winning the game 108 -104. The team made some key baskets down the stretch, with Porzingis making a three-pointer to put them up one with just under a minute left.
The Knicks were a combined 14 of 26 from the free-throw line. If the Knicks want to win games, they must make free throws since free throws are considered free points in the game to increase their lead and cut into a deficit. Leaving that many points on the table to lose the game is devastating.
Both teams have a long way to go in the regular season if either of them wants to have a chance at winning the NBA Championship.