The New York Knicks are primed to play great basketball.
It wasn’t the start they imagined, but it’s the start the New York Knicks have.
And yet, this time around, New York basketball and the people who support it have life. Nets loss aside, the Knicks got a revenge win over Trae Young and the Hawks in Atlanta. Not long before that, they beat a Los Angeles Lakers squad that didn’t have LeBron James available.
Even more interesting is it’s not even Christmas yet, and it seems the Kemba Walker experiment is over. After a number of rough performances from the veteran and Bronx native, coach Tom Thibodeau announced this week that Walker was out of the rotation.
Needless to say, one small change seems to have the New York Knicks turning a corner. As the late, great John Lennon once said, this team’s new energy is just like starting over.
The New York Knicks have new energy
Look at it this way. Kemba Walker last played in a New York Knicks game in Friday’s blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns. He then sat out Saturday’s game in Atlanta, and the Knicks’ tempo thrived with Alec Burks running the point. The team fans saw in this game was much more reminiscent of last year’s squad.
The same can absolutely be said for Tuesday’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets. First, the Knicks overcame the Nets starting the third quarter on a 14-0 run to close the gap and even take a lead in the fourth quarter. If not for Julius Randle’s idiotic technical foul and a cheapy foul call at the end, maybe Brooklyn doesn’t win 112-110.
Not to mention, the New York Knicks never folded and kept that game close without RJ Barrett. He missed the second half with an illness and both his scoring and perimeter defense are big losses. And yet, the Knicks kept up their energy.
So what comes next?
All in all, New York’s potential is not indicative of their record. The upstart Chicago Bulls visit Madison Square Garden on Thursday, followed by a Saturday afternoon tilt with the banged up Denver Nuggets.
The team will also receive a much-needed boost on defense, what with currently ranking 14th in points allowed. Veteran center Taj Gibson is set to return after missing two weeks with a groin injury. He’s still a strong rim protector at 36 years old, so the signature New York Knicks defense should soon be back.
All signs point to a fresh start. Kemba Walker might have been a good idea on paper, but the fantasy didn’t translate to reality. He just tried too hard to make the Knicks his team even though it was clear his tendency to hold the ball wasn’t a good match.
Now, the Knicks can refocus on the goal of the season all along: get back to the playoffs and make a deeper run.