The Knicks started their (pre)season off against the team that was most recently at New York's wrath.
Albeit, with the subtractions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, etc., this year's Celtics team is and will be a very different looking squad. Still, a local rivalry between the two teams will still remain.
It's quite easy to make such an assertion, because the Knicks' preseason opener with Boston got very chippy rather quickly. The teams traded buckets and surprisingly went back and forth all the way through the midpoint of the third quarter. It was there that New York began to break away.
On a squad likely still searching for their definitive primary options offensively, Gerald Wallace stepped up for Boston in the early goings. He added 10 points, but it was intriguing big man Vitor Faverani who stole the show for the Celtics. He scored 12, doing so by forcing his way inside with ease and (literally) pounding the rock home over the Knicks' opposing defenders.
There were a lot of positives to take away for New York after game one. Carmelo Anthony's shot had good fluidity as he knocked down a few jumpers early on. Iman Shumpert caught fire and added 18 points on a perfect 7 of 7 from the field. Shumpert's offensive prowess is undoubtedly something to look forward to this coming year.
But the fun didn't stop there for the Knicks. Metta World Peace came off the bench to fill up the stat-sheet and score 13 points for his team. Andrea Bargnani put on display his versatile skill set right away by shooting jumpers and utilizing an impressive pump fake to get to the free-throw line effectively. He scored 12 points of his own. Like Anthony, Raymond Felton had good rhythm and also looked like he was in midseason form. Pablo Prigioni did as well, serving as the that pesky, pestering defender we have all come to love.
But as New York's key players sat down to rest, Boston came out charging full speed ahead. The likes of Phil Pressey and Chris Babb both scored double-figures on their way to helping lead a potential comeback. The Celtics outscored the Knicks 37-24 in the game's final quarter, but it proved to be not quite enough.
And that's because Timmy (as Coach Mike Woodson called him) Hardaway Jr. was ready to step up as the hero. With the support of a bench full of hoping and popping teammates, the rookie remained poised enough to knock down the winning bucket with the game on the line. The guard scored 16 points, and showed flashes of very brilliant play that suggest he could be a major contributor for his team this coming season. But alas, it's just one game.
In addition to Hardaway, a handful of other young Knickerbockers stepped up to prove themselves as well. C.J. Leslie came up with what turned out to be a game-ending block during the Celtics' final possession.
Though the stat-sheet might not show it, also impressive on Wednesday night was former Thunder big man Cole Aldrich. Currently competing for a spot on the team, the young gun did plenty of things right in game one to help prove his worth. He missed shots on offense and got dunked upon on defense, but his effort on both ends on the court was a gritty, intense, and rather physical one. The energy he brought was exactly the type you want from a big man. Perhaps most telling from the contest for Aldrich was his plus/minus of +8.
Needless to say, it was exciting to be watching Knicks basketball again. I'm looking forward to seeing which guys continue to step up and prove themselves as the preseason goes on.