The New York Knicks open the 2012-13 regular season, and the revamped Madison Square Garden, Friday night (8 PM ET) with a visit from the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
Never a match-up that needs any additional storylines, Friday night’s contest – which will be broadcast on ESPN – is accompanied by a multitude of talking points, not least the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The super storm, which has decimated large regions of Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the East Coast, has left the city of New York in a state of emergency. The public transport system was brought to a halt this past weekend, and remains non-operational in many areas of the city. Subsequently, much of the Big Apple has been brought to a standstill.
That standstill was felt Thursday night as the Knicks’ visit to the Brooklyn Nets and their brand new Barclays Center – which should have been both sides’ season opener – was postponed at the request of New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. The NBA has rescheduled the game to November 26.
In a bid to lift the city, the Knicks’ home-opener at MSG will be the first of a number of sporting events to take place in the city this weekend, including the Nets’ season opener against Toronto on Saturday and the New York Marathon on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Steelers will visit MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., for a showdown with the New York Giants on Sunday also.
While nobody can be certain what the atmosphere will be like in Madison Square Garden, the marquee matchup with the Heat is as good a game as any to entice a few in from the cold and carnage.
Bitter rivals for the better part of two decades now, the Knicks-Heat encounter has some new blood to it this season. Miami has added a number of names to its roster, most notably sharpshooter Ray Allen, as it bids to defend its title. The Knicks meanwhile have added half a roster of new names.
Friday will see the New York debuts of Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton, Ronnie Brewer and Rasheed Wallace. Although listed as day-to-day, it’s likely we’ll also see the return of Marcus Camby.
Camby is the first player to return to New York after a spell of 10 years away from the side. Arriving at the Knicks in 1998 in a trade that sent Charles Oakley to Toronto, the center played four seasons with the team before being traded to Denver for Antonio McDyess. He was also present for the infamous brawl at the Garden in December 2006 that saw Carmelo Anthony sucker-punch Mardy Collins. Following spells with the Clippers, Blazers and Rockets, Camby once again is wearing the blue and orange of New York.
At 38, Camby is adding years to an aging Knicks side. Likewise Kidd (39), who is entering his 19th year in the league, and Wallace (38), who has opted to come out of retirement this year. New York will hope that age brings both experience and success, particularly as the Nets look to steal some of that NYC thunder.
New York will start the season without Amare Stoudemire. The oft-injured forward underwent knee surgery last week and is expected to be absent for between six and eight weeks. Second-year guard Iman Shumpert (ACL) will also be missing from Friday night’s game. Like Camby, Tyson Chandler is listed as day-to-day but expected to play against Miami.
The early season contest against Miami will be a good chance for the Knicks to get some practice in as a team. Miami (1-0) looked like a well-oiled machine against Boston on Tuesday, and few expect the Knicks to come away with this one. The New York side is underdog (+4½) against the defending champs. The over/under is 192.
The Knicks will get a few passes early in the season. A loss to the Heat on Friday and some early losses are not likely to have a huge impact on the season, despite what people in Los Angeles might be thinking right now. The task early on is getting the team to work as a cohesive unit, and getting Anthony the basketball. More than ever, Anthony needs to have a big season this year if the Knicks are to have any kind of success.
Oddsmakers are wary of this Knicks side when it comes to the NBA Futures. New York opened the season at 40/1 to take the NBA trophy and 18/1 to win the Eastern Conference. Those numbers put the Knicks below the Nets in the bookies’ estimation, something New York will be less than happy with. Beating the Nets this season will be paramount. Beating Miami wouldn’t be frowned upon either.
- Miami and New York will clash four times this season. After Friday night’s game, the sides will meet again on Dec. 6 (MIA), Mar. 3 (NY) and Apr. 2 (MIA).
- Miami swept (3-0) the season series with New York last season.
- New York has not lost its first game of the season when playing at home since 2003, an 85-83 OT loss to Orlando.
- New York beat Miami (120-115) the last time the two sides met in New York for a Knicks season opener.
- Miami beat New York (115-93) in the Knicks’ 2009 season opener, played in Miami.