Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Live From The Garden: Knicks -v- Heat

Opening night at Madison Square Garden, the "Mecca of Basketball," the "World's Most Famous Arena". I forgot what it's like to go to the Garden and it be packed like this. In the lobby of the Garden, was Al Trautwig and Allan Houston chatting away in front of the cameras and 100's of fans. Moving past them, it was a pleasure to have to fight our way through the long will-call lines. All's well when the Garden is packed. Like the Giants, if a New York team is doing well, the whole city goes crazy. For the NBA, it even brings international attention to a higher level.

One of the big stories tomorrow will be the total ignoring of Stephon Marbury by pretty much everyone. Well, towards the end of the 3rd quarter we heard chants, "We Want Steph!," but even that didn't get him in the game. From Shoot-Around, to the half, to the end of the game, it looked like no one was talking to Steph except maybe his fellow bench warmer (at the very far end). The only thing more negative than this, was the National Anthem. That was the worst version of the National Anthem I've ever heard in my life, not just the Garden. As soon as I find that on YouTube, it's getting posted. It reminds me of the that one time, when Mo Cheeks had to intervene and help finish.

Jamal Crawford grabbed the Mic, gave a little intro I could barely hear, and then the party started. This Introduction was about 50X more intense and fun than last years. The music was intense, the crowd was going wild, and....Q-Tip? A Tribe Called Quest's main man, Q-Tip, gave a New York, Hip-Hop welcome to the Knicks fans. While I love Tribe, and I thought that was very cool, I got the feeling it was very unattractive for the average Knicks fan. Keep in mind the average Knicks fan and ticket holder has no clue who Q-Tip is, and only got annoyed by 'that rap music.' Fun for me, no bueno for the suits downstairs.

The game started off with a beautiful layup by Michael Beasely, #2 pick of the 09 Draft and favorite to win this year's Rookie of the Year Award. That was pretty much it from him. Beasely missed the next 11 of 14 shots. Tonight was also Coach Erik Spoeltra's debut. Coach Spo, winner of the I-worked-my-ass-off-to-go-from-the-very-bottom-to-the-top Award, had almost identical mannerisms to Pat Riley. Clearly this guy has been groomed for the job. Hands on his hips and everything. I wonder if he's got the Pat Riley whistle. You can tell Spo is giving D.Wade the green light, as Wade was taking any shot he wanted. He was stuck on 8 points for a majority of the game, going 9 for 24 overall.

For most the game, the Knicks played great. Really, they played good, team ball. They were moving the ball a lot, and the crowd's intensity was willing the ball in. With about 10 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, the Knicks missed an opportunity to capitalize on Miami's foul trouble. There were 3 quick fouls early, and the Knicks didn't get them into the penalty until 2:43 left. With as many possessions as the Knicks get, they should have pushed more and gotten a 5th foul, to extend the lead. Nonetheless, the Knicks wound up leading by 15 in the half. Last season, I remember wondering when it would be that they ran an actual offensive basketball play, instead of going 1 on 5 with Jamal Crawford. Tonight was much different and very encouraging. Last year they won the first game at home, beating Denver in a close game, and it was exicting. But it was was a lot different because this time they played good ball. We'll see though, I don't want to get my h0pes up (again).

With about 4 minutes left in the game, the Heat starting making a run and closing the lead. The Knicks held on, mostly because D.Wade got his 6th personal foul right when it looked like it might get even. That was the end of the game, as the Heat are basically a D-League team without Wade. Beasley showed he wasn't ready tonight, and Shawn Marion isn't the same without Nash feeding him the rock.

John Hollinger, over at ESPN, talks a lot about how the margin of victory is more important than winning close games. Watching tonight, that made more sense. It was great to see a blowout win (well, for most of the game). I haven't seen one of those for a while, from the Knicks. The new system is working thus far, and basketball at the Garden hasn't been this exciting for a very long time.

Breakin' Down the Box Score...

One of the biggest surprises from the Box Score was the +/- on Quentin Richardson. When he was on the floor, the Knicks were at +14. Earlier, I was talking about Wilson Chandler taking his spot as the starting 3, but if they're doing best when he's on the floor, keep his ass on the floor! Speaking of, Wilson Chandler had a great night, shooting over 50% from the field. I liked to see that he played 23 minutes and only had 1 turnover. He was cold from downtown, but finished with 17 points and 9 rebounds, and a couple of gorgeous moves. Get excited about this kid. Z-Bo had some good shooting percentages, and got his hands on 2 steals. 2 steals from Z-Bo? I'll take em. Eddy Curry and Steph, both got DNP-CD's. That's about 30 Million in salary warming the bench. Thanks Isiah!

As I mentioned earlier, Michael Beasley had a pretty rough night, going 1-5 from downtown, and 4-15 overall, finishing up with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 turnovers. Rough debut for Beasley, but I'm sure he's happy he's not in Greg Oden's shoes (or boot now). Mario Chalmers made his NBA debut tonight also, and he had a great line. Being a rookie, and a starter, it's hard to believe he only had 1 turnover in 35 minutes. He had 17 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, while shooting 50% from the field and 2 shots from downtown (wow!). You might want to keep an eye on this kid for fantasy purposes. That's a fantastic line.

The Knicks are undefeated for the season! Game 2 Friday in Philly, home of the World Series Champs.


Anonymous said...

I know what a q tip is,, its takes all the junk outta my ear every morning.. they shudda taken that junk outta the garden too,,