The wait is finally over. New York Knicks basketball is upon us as the Knicks (0-0) prepare to launch their 2023 preseason tonight at Madison Square Garden against the largely retooled Boston Celtics (1-0).
While both the Celtics and Knicks have succumbed to playoff defeats at the hands of the Miami Heat in consecutive postseason rounds, this new Celtics team coming to town tonight looks very different from the Celtics that left TD Garden last May. The Knicks still look like… the Knicks.
Thibodeau has already articulated his strategy for using his starting lineup for tonight’s opener. When asked about the usage of his starters tonight, Thibs acknowledged they will see significant but limited minutes. Speaking to the media last weekend, he said: “Usually in the first game you get something and then you keep adding, the last one will be closer to the normal rotation.”
While this means the highly anticipated point guard battle between Brunson and Holiday won’t materialize as much as we hope, expect to see the Knicks’ core starting lineup from last season: Brunson, Quentin Grimes, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson give kick off the game and will most likely be pulled early for the Knicks’ new acquisitions and emerging talent to take over the reins for the majority of the game.
The Celtics opened their preseason last night in Boston with a 114-106 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Considering tonight’s matchup is the return of a back-to-back, the Knicks may find themselves lucky in terms of the Celtics’ player rotation. Expect Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla to stick with his regular starting five of Holiday, Brown, Tatum, Porzingis and Al Horford. However, last night’s game against Philadelphia, in which eight players, including all five starters, played between 23 and 26 minutes, may indicate what the Knicks might expect to see tonight.
Considering all factors, there is a strong possibility that Mazzulla could opt for a more conservative approach and distribute playing time more evenly among the second unit of Payton Pritchard, Derrick White, Sam Hauser, Oshae Brissett and Luke Kornet. Pritchard led the team last night with 26 points while shooting 6-of-11 from behind the arc. Celtics fans may also get their first look at one or more of the seven players who earned a DNP last night. If Mazzulla does the Knicks a favor and actually gives a more balanced distribution of minutes to the second unit, the Knicks win tonight by 15. Easily.