SPANISH HARLEM – Much to my surprise, the New York Knicks were a bright spot in a day full of craziness.
Usually, it’s the team that brings me down but this squad thas been full of surprises. They beat the Utah Jazz on Wednesday to start the season at 5-3 and it was the way they won that made proud.
At first, this seemed like one of those games that they have been known to lose. The energy was flat and their two best players this season, Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were not making shots. It was a difficult start and soon they were down 15 in the second quarter, they fought back but the Jazz were hitting 3-pointers at a rapid rate. The Knicks would bring it to 4, only to see the lead jump back to double figures and leading into the half, nothing was going their way.
The 2nd half started and it was like we were watching a different team. They minimized their mistakes and played almost flawless basketball; they went into the 4th quarter without committing a turnover. That’s the difference a year makes. That’s the difference a great coach has for a team that hasn’t had a good one in years. The effort was there in the 3rd quarter and they took the lead for first time since the 1st with 14 points from Randle. Last year, they broke down in the 2nd half of games but this year they actually come out stronger in most games, which is what you like to see from a group that didn’t start the first half well.
In the 4th quarter, you saw more of the same with the Knicks, with players making good decisions and plays to keep them in the game. They didn’t get nervous or lose focus. They played better than their opponent. They fought and clawed until Austin Rivers took the game over late in the quarter. Another great signing by the Knicks – a player that wants to play in New York and who also can create his own shot when needed. Rivers was the reason they won, hitting big 3 after big 3 just when Utah was making their push.
It was an awesome game to watch and that got me thinking… Is this team really good? Are the Knicks for real?!
I went into the season thinking one more high draft pick would make them legit but with the way they playing, we might be looking at a mid round pick. If Tom Thibodeau can develop these players, make them better and play winning basketball ?, then that matters more than anything. I don’t know how long this can last because the better they play, the more teams will be prepared for them. BUT… I like what I’m seeing so far. I see growth and guys sharing the ball and playing hard for one another. What more can you ask for if your a Knicks fan?
It’s cliché but only time will tell if these Knickerbockers will morph into the Walking Dead zombies we’ve gotten so used to around here. In the meantime, comment below and come back tomorrow for someone we know is for real, Different Matt.