• Nick Fay

New York Knicks Season Preview 2014-15


2014-2015 New York Knicks Season Preview

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Preamble About the Writer

It's June 5, 1999. It's a Saturday night, and I'm at my dad's house in Long Island for the weekend. Together that night, we sat down to watch Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Heading into this game, the series is tied at a game a piece between my beloved Knicks, and the hated Indiana Pacers. Even at 10 years old, I had ultimate distain for Reggie Miller. I found him to be so smug. I will never deny that he was one of the greatest 3 point shooters to ever play the game, but he always seemed to hit those huge shots against my team, driving a stake right through my heart. The play I am about to describe is forever ingrained in New York sports history, but here is my account of it. The Knicks trailed Indiana by 3 with just under 12 seconds to go in the game. I became so nervous that in the timeout right before, I started pacing around the house. I moved from the living room through the dining room, into the kitchen, and back around into the living room with tremor, as I feared the worst. Then it happened. The four point play, Larry Johnson sizes up for a three point shot, which he hits as he is fouled by Antonio Davis of the Pacers. I lose my mind. “Oh my god!” My dad and I celebrate with an embrace and then calm down to make sure he completes the free throw. LJ does exactly so, the Pacers miss the ensuing shot, and the Knicks take a 2-1 series lead. New York would go on to win the East, but would run into the first of what would turn out to be many Gregg Popovich coached San Antonio championship teams. Fifteen years, a “Starbury,” a few tanked seasons, and flirtation with Eastern supremacy (only to follow it up with missing the playoffs a year after) later, we take a look at this incarnation of the New York Knickerbockers and their outlook for this season.

Roster (as of 10/28/14)

0 – Shane Larkin – PG

1 – Amar'e Stoudemire – PF

3 – Jose Calderon – PG

4 – Quincy Acy – SF

5 – Tim Hardaway Jr. - SG

6 – Travis Wear – SF

7 – Carmelo Anthony – SF

8 – J.R. Smith – SG

9 – Pablo Prigioni – PG

11 – Samuel Dalembert – C

14 – Jason Smith – C

17 – Cleanthony Early – SF

21 – Iman Shumpert – SG

45 – Cole Aldrich – C

77 – Andrea Bargnani – C

New Regime

It came late last season, as the Knicks were finishing up a very disappointing follow up campaign, to their previous year success. It was evident that Mike Woodson was losing his team. There needed to be some sort of spark, that if not could save this Knicks’ season, but rather set them back on track for future contention for the main prize. In mid-March, James Dolan made the best possible move he could make to turn his Knicks franchise's fortunes around. Phil Jackson was named New York Knicks Team President, and emerged hope, his illustrious career's previous success would rub off on the team that played inside the world's most famous arena. It was in this very building, that Phil played the game as part of the only two championship teams that the franchise has seen. He went on to be an 11-time champion as a head coach. Phil has done it all, but he will now take on a role, he has no experience with, despite his immense knowledge of the game. Once the season ended, he let go of Mike Woodson as head coach, a move everybody knew was coming. There was a flirtation period with the idea that Steve Kerr was going to coach this team. As negotiations progressed, it seemed Phil would get his man. In a move nobody saw coming, Kerr chose the confines of Oracle Arena on the West Coast over the Mecca, and signed on to become head coach of the Golden State Warriors. Some saw this as a sign of weakness of Phil's will, when he failed to land his primary choice. Enter Derek Fisher, an NBA champion several times over, a leader in the locker room, a great teammate, and now head coach. Fisher will be a novice, but under Phil's watch, Fisher should implement the triangle offense effectively and be an extension of Phil himself on the bench.

Outlook

The Knicks will start off the season with a rough back to back right away. They will face probably the two best teams, the Eastern Conference has to offer, when they open at home against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, on Wednesday October 29th, and then travel to the Quicken Loans Arena the following night, Thursday October 30th, to play LeBron James in his first game back in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform. It's probably not fair to expect this team, which will still be learning a new offensive system and coach, to win both of these games, but if this team wants to be good this year, they cannot afford to get off to the type of start they had last season because once again they will never be able to recover. The early part of the schedule will continue to feature some of the stronger competitors in the east (Charlotte and Washington). New York needs to show they are no pushovers in this conference and beat these various teams early on. I believe this year’s Knicks team will be somewhat a mixture of the last two season's results. They are definitely not as good as the team that was a number two seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs two years ago, but they are also definitely not as bad as the team who failed to make the playoffs last year, marking the first time in his NBA career that a team Carmelo Anthony played basketball on did not make a postseason. We know the Knicks are never going to be known for their defensive ability, but in order for this team to be respectable and in the playoffs, they will have to commit to the defensive principles Derek Fisher is trying to install in them from the first practice at West Point this year, in which the entire 3 hour session was spent on defense only. New York has also been a streaky shooting team in the past. When they can hit the three, they can beat anybody. On nights when the shots are not falling, they struggle to find ways to score enough points. They will have to be much more consistent and shoot a higher team field goal percentage.

Prediction

I have the Knicks finishing second in the Atlantic to the Nets, but still ahead of Toronto, and thus being a number six seed in the East, in which I have them playing a first round matchup with the three seed Washington Wizards.

*Photo via USA Today

-By Matt Costoso

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattcostoso

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