The New York Knicks open up their 2014-2015 season at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls. It will be the first time to see the Knicks in the Triangle Offense in a game that matters. That is just one of many things to keep an eye out for tonight when the two teams take the court to get their seasons started. Here are some other things to keep an eye on tonight in the matchup between the Knicks and Bulls.
-Head Coaching Debut
Derek Fisher will be making his head coaching debut on the biggest stage in basketball at Madison Square Garden. It will be a tough task for Fisher to get a currently flawed Knicks roster into the postseason, but he is as ready as anyone to head the Knicks as he is a natural born leader. Fisher’s suit game has also been a talking point, and something to keep an eye on as his dressings are already among the tops in the league according to some people.
-Who Starts For Knicks?
No one is 100 percent sure who Fisher will be starting in the season opener, but strong indications are that it will be Jose Calderon, who looks to be okay after a calf injury in the preseason, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Smith and Samuel Dalembert.
That means Amar’e Stoudemire will be coming off the bench along with J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. The rest of the rotation will be worth watching as well, as the backup point guard spot is one that has yet to be decided upon for the long run. Shane Larkin got plenty of run during the preseason, but it would be hard to imagine veteran Pablo Prigioni being pushed to the side so easily.
-Bulls Add One, Lose One
Tonight will be the much anticipated return for former MVP Derrick Rose. Rose, who has suffered long term injury after long term injury the past couple of seasons, has not played in nearly a full season since 2010-2011. After playing with team USA in the summer, Rose looked to be coming around with preseason winding down, pouring in 30 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 24 minutes and then 27 against the Minnesota Timberwolves to end the preseason.
While Rose’s return will be great for the Bulls, they already are suffering from another injury to a player, this time Jimmy Butler. Butler, who is dealing with a sprained left thumb, will miss the season opener. Butler is hoping to be ready for the Bulls’ next game Friday against LeBron James and aforementioned Cavaliers, but that is up in the air. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler may miss two-four weeks, but quickly turned around and said maybe one-three. No matter what the timetable is Butler will definitely not be in the lineup for the Bulls against the Knicks Wednesday.
The Knicks are revamping everything in the organization, from the top to the bottom. On the court, they will be deploying a new offense and different scheme on defense than they have played recently. It will take some time to get things rolling, and it will be interesting to see how they look against a strong team in the Bulls right off the bat.
The Bulls have one of the best defenses in the NBA, and how the Knicks run the Triangle Offense against them will be worth watching. It will be a tall task, and fans cannot overact depending on what happens, but it will be a nice challenge to see how they react.
On the defensive end of the court, the Knicks are also a work in progress. They have to abandon the tendencies they have used under Mike Woodson the last couple of seasons, which is proving easier said than done. The Knicks have played a defense some would consider lazy, constantly switching and putting themselves in poor defensive positions. They were weak at the point of attack, as Raymond Felton was a revolving door at the top of the defense.
Under Fisher, there will be no switching. He is preaching defense and that the players stick with their man. The scheme is to push ball handlers to the outside of the court, trying to avoid letting teams attack the paint at will. So far the Knicks have struggled during the preseason, as their roster isn’t full with players that like playing defense. It will be a work in progress, but if the Knicks are to contend for a playoff spot this season, their defense will have to carry them to start as the offense comes around.