Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will need to prove they are a top team in the new-look Eastern Conference.
The 2012-2013 season begins in less than three weeks and the New York Knicks expect to be a playoff team once again. Games with Oklahoma City and Los Angeles will be among the most anticipated ones for fans, but the most important games on the schedule are the ones that could determine whether or not they reach this goal.
Miami will be the clear favorite in the East once again. Where everyone else will finish is less clear. Matchups with the second tier of conference teams dominate the coming slides.
Here’s a quick look at 10 of the Knicks' biggest games for the upcoming season.
LeBron James has had some of his most impressive performances at MSG.
New York’s first home game of the 2012-13 season will be against the defending champs.
What should Knicks fans expect? Not much based on last year’s matchups with Miami. New York was 1-7 against LeBron and friends.
A win opening night at the Garden could serve as a much-needed early-season boost. Seven of the following 10 games will be on the road.
Miles Plumlee, while a controversial selection, adds further depth to an already deep Pacers team.
Sandwiched between six road games is this home affair with one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. Three of those six games come against 2011-12 Western Conference playoff teams.
Pair this with the fact that the Knicks will have already played three games against East contenders and it becomes obvious that a loss here could really put them in a November hole.
Derrick Rose will be sorely missed, but Chicago did beat NY without him last season.
Here’s a good “gauge game” for the New York Knicks. The same could be said for the Chicago Bulls.
Even sans Derrick Rose, I still like Chicago to grab an Eastern Conference playoff spot. That said, New York should best—or at least tie—the Bulls in the season series. They were 1-3 against Chicago last season and 0-1 when Rose was sidelined.
Don't be surprised if Kyrie Irving steals a playoff spot.
The Knicks get six straight home games in mid-December. The first game of the stretch is against Los Angeles. Cleveland will be their second opponent.
You could say Los Angeles is the “bigger” game—it will certainly garner more television viewership—but the Lakers are in a different conference and will be heavy favorites.
Good teams are competitive with one another, but consistently beat inferior ones. Cleveland will be better in 2013 than in 2012, although this is the exact type of game the Knicks must win—especially if it comes after a loss.
Rajon Rondo will not face the Knicks until 2013.
An interesting schedule decision makes this the first meeting between the two teams. They kicked off last year’s NBA season in a game that New York would go on to win by two.
New York and Boston split their four games last year, with the home team winning each one.
Mikhail Prokhorov believes his NY team is better than the Knicks. He may be right.
I could have gone with any of the four games against Brooklyn, but this one made the cut as it will actually be their last regular-season meeting.
This selection doesn’t need much explaining. Brooklyn and New York will be rivals from now until forever—or at least that’s what Mikhail Prokhorov seems to think.
Andrew Bynum could dominate the East.
The 76ers and Knicks battled for the final two playoff spots in the conference last year.
This year’s team will be far different from its predecessor, however. Will Andrew Bynum dominate the conference? If Tyson Chandler cannot slow him down, things do not look good for anyone else.
Few NBA players are as boring as Blake Griffin—especially Tim Duncan.
The Knicks take on the Clippers in the fourth game of a five-game Western Conference road trip—fun, really.
They only played once last year and that came in the second-to-last game.
If Amar’e Stoudemire and Blake Griffin can both remain healthy through March, this game could be, if nothing else, a great opportunity for Knicks fans to be reminded of what their power forward used to be.
Al Horford is quietly becoming a star.
Naming one end-of-year game ahead of the other in terms of importance this far in advance is difficult to do. The most important games will be the ones against other playoff contenders.
Will Atlanta be a playoff team in 2013? ESPN’s John Hollinger thinks the Hawks will finish sixth. He hasn’t released predictions for the Knicks, but I think New York will be somewhere around there as well.
If both are true, there will be no games more important than the April 3 game in Atlanta and the one in MSG to conclude the regular season.