The New York Knicks put together a solid 100-84 win at home against division-rival Philadelphia 76ers to improve to 2-0. This game builds on the impressive 104-84 opening night victory over the defending champion Miami Heat.
Sunday's game against the 76ers was largely similar to Friday night's opener. The Knicks appear to be banking on two things so far this season:
Three-point shooting and defense.
Star small forward and primary scoring threat Carmelo Anthony needs to continue to execute effectively for those two elements to be successful.
Carmelo and the Knicks are living and dying on their three-pointers in the first two games. The Knicks scored 57 points—more than half of their points as a team on Friday—on three-pointers, compared to only 21 for the Heat. Carmelo, for his part, shot 50 percent from three but only 30 percent from two.
On Sunday the Knicks continued to rely on the three-point game. They took 27 three-pointers, compared with 17 by the 76ers. Shooting guard J.R. Smith (4-5) and small forward Steve Novak (2-5) continue to be the most committed of the bunch.
One question that will surround the Knicks for the early part of their season is whether or not they will be able to sustain this type of play. The Knicks shot over 50 percent as a team from three on Friday and over 40 percent on Sunday.
Head coach Mike Woodson and Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler continue to push the Knicks toward solid and effective team defense. The Knicks gave up only 84 points in each of these first two games.
Anthony—whose defensive effort has been brought into question for his entire career—has been playing harder on defense than he has in the past. Perhaps he is finally buying into a defensive system. We will have to wait and see how that plays out over the next few weeks.
Smith had an impactful and efficient game off the bench, scoring 20 points on 15 shots to go along with nine rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Whose performance are you most surprised by?
New point guard Jason Kidd moved the ball well when he had the opportunity. He contributed 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, six assists, three rebounds and three steals.
Anthony garnered 27 points and five rebounds, four of them defensive. He also added two blocks on defense.
The Knicks played a very clean game on the whole, committing only 10 fouls as a team. Chandler—who plays very physical defense and often gets called for many of fouls as a result—only picked up one foul in 21 minutes played.
The Knicks travel to Philadelphia Monday night to play a second-straight game against the 76ers. They will try to stay undefeated and push the 76ers below .500.