The NBA preseason isn’t about wins or losses, but a victory here or there always helps pad team confidence.
The Knicks can’t help but feel good after their second preseason victory, defeating the division rival Celtics 98-95 in overtime. Looking ahead to the regular season, it’s important to examine exactly how New York is coming away with its victories. So far, both have been in positive fashion.
Whereas the Knicks beat the Wizards on Thursday thanks to their sweet shooting stroke from downtown, the long-ball was not the team’s friend vs. the Celtics. Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Pablo Prigioni, and Chris Copeland all combined for 3 for 20 behind the arc, and the team as an entire group didn’t fare much better, only shooting 10.3% from deep.
Unable to make it rain, the Knicks went back to basics. With the loss of Jeremy Lin, the team’s new point guards will be scrutinized all season long when pondering if letting Lin go was the right decision. Saturday night, the team’s new floor generals did not disappoint.
Raymond Felton displayed precision passing for the second straight contest, dishing 7 dimes, all the while only finishing with one turnover. He was able to find Anthony (23 points) and Tyson Chandler (16 points) underneath the basket again and again.
The media and fans alike are anticipating the return of Amar’e Stoudemire to benefit Felton, largely in part due to the chemistry the pair displayed in their first Big Apple stint together. But what about the returning guard’s fluidity with the rest of the offense? Despite Felton’s connection with STAT, the fact is, he controls the flow of the offense. He’s going to be the one controlling the tempo, and thus, has the ability to help each member of the team up their game on that end of the floor. Much as it was the case in 2010-11, if Felton is rolling, so will his squad.
Prigioni came off the bench, only to display some impressive court vision of his own. Though he did dish out 5 assists, such a number doesn’t even do his playmaking ability justice. Playing alongside Kidd in the Knicks backcourt, the Argentine helped his team surge late in the game.
The 35 year old led the charge as his team gunned for the victory, finding roster hopeful Chris Copeland in the right spots all throughout the second half. Not only did the forward cash in on Prigioni’s sweet passes, he aggressively attacked the basket and got to the line effectively, finishing with 21 points. The big man also hit two free throws and swatted away a key shot down the stretch to help the Knicks seal the deal.
If Copeland continues to make the most out of the opportunities he’s given, perhaps he’ll make the Knicks’ roster for the regular season. Already coming off a strong showing in Las Vegas this summer, minutes could be had for him should the Knicks’ frontline continue to face injuries throughout the year.
All in all, many positives to take away from such a victory. There’s certainly a lot to be optimistic as the Knicks charge ahead towards November.