There are many Knicks fans proclaiming, “The Knicks are back!,” following the team’s 2-0 start with wins over the Heat and 76ers.
Perhaps a little bit more time is needed to assert such a statement, but one thing can be said for sure: the “offices” of KnicksJournal.com are back up and running following the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
As for the team, the Knicks certainly showed enough promise and positive things on both ends of the court to warrant excitement and hope from their fan base this weekend.
On Sunday afternoon, New York was raring to go (despite an early matinee start) and took charge of the game from the beginning and never looked back.
Not falling behind since a 2-0 76ers lead to start yesterday’s contest, the Knicks proved for the second game in a row they understand now how to control the tempo of the game.
The Knicks’ ball movement didn’t exactly produce a fast-paced game, as Jason Kidd was the team leader with only 6 assists. That said, New York thrived with great spacing throughout the contest on offense. Kidd, Steve Novak, and even Raymond Felton did a great job spreading out around the perimeter.
Did the trio make every shot they took from beyond the arc? No. But just the fact that they were positioned properly at all times made Philly’s defense quite vulnerable throughout. With their team’s long-range shooters keeping the 76ers honest on defense, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were able to attack the basket and pull up for jumpers of their own again and again. The pair poured in the points all game long, with Anthony leading the way with 27, and Smith adding 20 off the bench.
Perhaps it was Anthony’s attitude and mentality that helped set the tone for the entire contest, but defensively, it was none other than two of the NBA’s old dogs that paced the Knickerbockers.
Kidd and Kurt Thomas helped New York keep the 76ers’ offense down for much of the game. Fighting flu-like symptoms, starting center Tyson Chandler was limited to 20 minutes of play.
Jrue Holliday may have led Philadelphia with 27 points, but also led his squad with 6 turnovers as well. Kidd is one of the game’s smartest players. He commands respects as chases and stays on his opponent. There’s no doubt he made it tough for the 76ers’ guards.
And then there’s Thomas, the league’s oldest active player. Not only does the big man look in as good of shape as anyone on the court, he also makes things difficult for opponents. With Chandler sitting down, the veteran was was a big part of what anchored the Knicks’ defensive effort. Even his so-called flagrant foul earlier in the contest proved something: New York isn’t going to get pushed around very easily this season.
The team obviously knows there’s a lot at stake this season. That’s a given. But the intelligence and steady demenior they bring to the court a team (should it stay at the same level) is going to help define their entire year.
And a big part of carrying all that through and maintaining it all season long is going to be not letting up. After suffering a frustrating loss on Sunday, the 76ers are undoubtedly going to come out with some fire against the Knicks in their second matchup of the home and home series. It’ll be up to New York to hold them down once again, all the while displaying a bit of consistency.