The New York Knicks have high-hopes hanging on the upcoming season and while the preseason isn’t considered important, it is a barometer for the progress of rookies, as well as second- and third-year players looking to crack the rotation or make the roster.
Former University of Michigan standout Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped up against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, October 9 with a game-winning basket as time expired. The Knicks saw a 22-point lead wash away before the tidal wave produced by a determined Celtics squad that is looking for all the moral victories that it can possibly come up with before the season starts.
The starting lineup of PG Raymond Felton, G Pablo Prigioni, Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler was responsible for an early lead, but it was Iman Shumpert, Metta World Peace and Tim Hardaway Jr. who were poured it on.
The wing players shot a combined 18-for-26 from behind the arc. The Knicks looked good, but their inability to close out an outmatched opponent was somewhat disheartening. Though Prigioni started, it was likely because coach Mike Woodson is still waiting to see which of his wing players proves he is better than his peers. The preseason is all about ironing things out.
Just when Knicks Nation was content in the notion that their team didn’t need anymore preseason games, they ran into the Toronto Raptors who, like the Celtics, were also looking to build on as many preseason positives as possible and weren’t disappointed. Nothing is more positive than a win. However, lessons can be gleaned from wins and losses alike.
Once again, Shumpert and Hardaway Jr. came out like gang-busters against the Raptors. Meanwhile, Melo led the team with 24 points in limited action as the Knicks went down by a score of 100-91.
Remember what I said about the preseason not being that big a deal? Well, apparently the Celtics didn’t get the memo as they came out and blitzed a Knicks team that rested most of its starters. Aside from roster hopefuls PF Ike Diogu and PG Toure Murry, the young guys did not represent at all.
The Knicks appear to be exceptionally deep on the wing this preseason with Hardaway, a hot-shooting World Peace and Shumpert each showcasing their respective skills. J.R. Smith has yet to play a preseason game, but Woodson will have some tough decisions to make as far as who starts at the two for New York. It is a great problem to have considering Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd started at shooting guard most nights last season.
Center and power forward are other positions that the Knicks have been looking to shore up thus far in the preseason. However, aside from Ike Diogu, there have been no one who has clearly separated himself from his peers at that spot as of yet. PF Amar’e Stoudemire is looking to return to the team before the start of the regular season. Meanwhile, there is no word yet on when J.R. Smith will return.
Ricardo A. Hazell is a freelance Sports Writer for RantSports based out of New York City. You can follow him on Twitter at NikosMightyDad or add him to your network on Google Plus.