Before the season started, I outlined five reasons to be optimistic about the New York Knicks, but even I didn't see an opening night blowout of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat coming. But that's what happened on Friday, November 2, as the Knicks hammered the Heat, 104-84.
There were encouraging signs abound. Carmelo Anthony poured in 30 points, Raymond Felton dished out nine of the team's 27 assists, and Steve Novak (17 points) buried five three-pointers to spark New York. Best of all, the Knicks (1-0) played like a well-oiled machine.
Without Amare Stoudemire (knee) in the lineup, the offense flowed smoothly through Anthony, as the Knicks raced out to a 33-17 lead after the first quarter. Felton (14 points) did a masterful job at breaking down Miami's defense and Ronnie Brewer and Tyson Chandler led a strong defensive effort. Furthermore, there were very few forced (poor) shots and no easy baskets for Miami (1-1).
This was the best-case scenario for the Knicks, who added depth and experience in the offseason, making them the oldest team in the league. It also made them an old-school team, one that shares the ball and plays defense, just the way coach Mike Woodson wants it. Sure, it's only one game, but the potential is there for the Knicks to make some noise in the Atlantic Division this season.
''They played a very good basketball game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told the Associated Press after the game. "Got us on our heels pretty much the whole game and we weren't able to recover from there. We have to move on. We're clearly much better than this."
We know Miami is better than this, but are the Knicks as good as this?
They can be, if they play together.
Adam Martini is a freelance sportswriter who grew up in New York rooting for the Knicks. He fondly remembers the days when coming down the lane on the Knicks was hazardous to one's health. Although he has never witnessed his favorite NBA team win a championship, he remains a loyal fan.