New York Knicks Schedule 2013-14: Most Anticipated Games of the Regular Season

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 7, 2013

New York Knicks Schedule 2013-14: Most Anticipated Games of the Regular Season

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    Based on the sheer number of highly anticipated games on the New York Knicks' 2013-14 schedule, Carmelo Anthony and Co. might want to think about cutting down on their rivalries. It seems like every game on the docket has a dramatic backstory—or at least an unusual subplot or two.

    Some upcoming contests have a little extra juice, though.

    For example, it's going to be difficult to keep the roof on Madison Square Garden when Jeremy Lin and Dwight Howard come to town on Nov. 14.

    And get ready for an epic showdown with the fate of New York's basketball supremacy hanging in the balance when the Knicks head to the Barclays Center to face the loaded Brooklyn Nets on Dec. 5.

    Most diehards will be pumped for all 82 tilts on the calendar, but there are 10 games that warrant immediate circling.

October 30 vs. Milwaukee Bucks

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    You know it and I know it: Nobody cares about the Milwaukee Bucks. But venison is on the menu for the Knicks' home opener, which means that for a couple of hours, the deer will find themselves in the pressure cooker of a New York sporting spectacle.

    There's just nothing better than the buzz of a team's first home game, and with the way the Knicks jumped out to an 18-5 record last year, expectations for another hot start will be high.

    The faithful Garden attendees will get their first looks at new additions Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace, and just as importantly, they'll find out if Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler have shaken the ailments that dogged them at the end of last season.

    The Knicks think they're a championship contender, and while a game against the middle-of-the-road Bucks won't prove or disprove that belief, New Yorkers won't care. They'll be bursting at the seams just to watch their team take the floor for the first time.

November 14 vs. Houston Rockets

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    As if Dwight Howard making his first visit to Madison Square Garden as a Rocket wasn't enough, Jeremy Lin will also return to the birthplace of Linsanity on Nov. 14.

    That's right, Knicks fans; it'll be time to dig those Lin jerseys out of the bottom drawer.

    Houston stomped the Knicks by a combined 38 points in the two meetings between the teams last season, so in addition to facing the circus surrounding the Rockets' big names, New York will be out to turn the tables. Incredibly, the Knicks haven't beaten the Rockets since Jan. 26, 2009.

    That's a long drought.

    There'll be plenty of threes raining down in this one, though, as these two teams finished first and second, respectively, in total three-point attempts last season. The Knicks will need to splash down a deluge of triples to compete with the vastly improved Rockets.

    This will be a good one. 

November 20 vs. Indiana Pacers

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    The Indiana Pacers put an end to the best Knicks season in a couple of decades last year, eliminating New York in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

    Indy forced the Knicks into tough shots all series, exposing either head coach Mike Woodson's inability to adjust, or the team's unwillingness to share the ball. (It's still hard to say which contributed more to the Knicks' downfall.)

    So in the first meeting between these two teams since last year's playoffs, fans will get to find out if the Knicks' new additions provide better offensive diversity. Plus, it'll be compelling to see whether or not New York's penetrators (I'm looking at you, 'Melo) have finally figured out that it's not a great strategy to take the ball right at Roy Hibbert in the middle.

    Oh, and Chris Copeland will return to MSG as an opponent! Can't forget that.

    If the Knicks are going to evolve into a real contender, they'll have to prove it first against the team that shut them down a year ago.

November 27 at Los Angeles Clippers

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    The first cross-country road trip is always a big test in an NBA season, no matter the quality of the opponent at the flight's destination. Teams bond on the road, and the longer the journey, the more opportunity a squad has to come together.

    Though the Knicks technically kick off their first West coast swing of the season in Portland on Nov. 25, the real destination of concern is L.A. When the Knicks disembark in California on Nov. 27, they'll have to face off against a frighteningly improved version of the Los Angeles Clippers.

    Chris Paul re-signed, and the Clips picked up a couple of scary floor-spacers in J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley over the summer.

    Plus, old rival Doc Rivers will be stalking the sideline as the Knicks try to notch a win against the team that swept two meetings last season.

    It always feels a little overwrought to play up the interconference rivalry in the NBA, but this matchup will pit a pair of superpowers from opposite coasts against one another. Both fringe contenders a year ago, the Knicks and Clippers will be out to prove that the "fringe" modifier no longer applies.

    Hopefully, all of the camaraderie from a shared Jordan brand endorsement won't sap the intensity from CP3, Anthony and Blake Griffin. Friendship is no fun when it comes to on-court battles.

December 5 at Brooklyn Nets

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    There are rivalries and there are rivalries. The one between the Knicks and Brooklyn Nets sits firmly in the latter category.

    We're talking a classic, full-on "this town ain't big enough for the both of us" standoff that takes place in the newspapers, on the court and even on the free-agent market.

    The two teams traded punches over the summer, with the Knicks trying to answer every splashy Nets move with one of their own. When the dust settled, Brooklyn had pulled off the biggest trade of the offseason, acquiring Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce from the Boston Celticsand landed the best free-agent value in Andrei Kirilenko.

    The Knicks got Bargnani and World Peace. Score that one for the Nets, I guess.

    There are angles on top of angles here. Jason Kidd, a Knick last year, is  now the head coach in Brooklyn. And the beef between Anthony and Garnett from a year ago will take on an extra dimension now that KG is a Net.

    Right now, the Nets are simply the "cooler" team in New York. They're probably also the more legitimate championship contender. The Knicks aren't going to roll over and accept their secondary position, though.

    It'd probably be wise to just set your DVR right now.

December 11 vs. Chicago Bulls

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    The Chicago Bulls won more games than any other NBA team in the two regular seasons before Derrick Rose blew out his ACL. With the former MVP back in the lineup, they'll immediately vault back into the upper echelon of championship contenders.

    Which means the Knicks will be in for a real test when the Bulls come to Madison Square Garden for the first time on Dec. 11.

    The last time D-Rose suited up in MSG, the Knicks and Bulls needed overtime to decide the affair. Anthony poured in 43 points and hit a back-breaking three with 8.2 seconds left in OT that decided the game. The Knicks will need another stellar performance from 'Melo to contend with a hungry Bulls team.

    Keep in mind that the Bulls basically invented the style of defense that the Pacers used to stifle the Knicks in last season's playoffs. So in addition to contending with a fully healthy Rose, New York will also face a real challenge in the scoring department.

December 25 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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    The NBA owns Christmas, which means the league always gives fans marquee matchups as gifts and stuffs stockings with snazzy alternate jerseys.

    This season, the Knicks will square off with the Oklahoma City Thunder, giving viewers a game that will feature last year's two top scorers trading Yuletide buckets.

    The Thunder should once again be somewhere near the top of the Western Conference, which means that the overall basketball quality of this game should be extremely high. And on an individual basis, the battle between Durant and Anthony should be epic in its own right.

    KD can claim he doesn't care about losing out on the scoring title all he wants, but don't be surprised if he erupts for 50—just to prove that he only let 'Melo borrow his award last season.

January 9 vs. Miami Heat

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    Anytime LeBron James comes to town, it's an event. When the reigning MVP and two-time NBA champ visits Madison Square Garden, the center of the basketball universe, it's another thing entirely.

    LBJ will take the floor at MSG with something of a chip on his shoulder, as the Knicks managed to take three of the four meetings between these two teams last season. The Heat don't have much to prove to anybody these days, but they probably aren't too happy about the way the Knicks handled them a year ago.

    And a motivated Heat team is a very scary sight to behold.

    Anthony dropped an even 50 on the Heat on April 2, 2013. James rested during that game, but you can bet he'll be ready to prove that there's no way 'Melo would have reached the half-century mark if he'd been on the court to do something about it.

    On the other end, it'll be interesting to see if Anthony accepts the challenge of guarding James, or if the Knicks sic World Peace on the King.

February 28 vs. Golden State Warriors

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    The last time the Golden State Warriors did battle with the Knicks in New York, Stephen Curry set the nets on fire, gunning his way to 54 points on a never-ending series of 27-foot pull-ups and slick floaters.

    Not since Kobe Bryant pumped in 61 points in 2009 had an opponent come into MSG and torched the Knicks so thoroughly.

    Of course, the Knicks managed to beat the Warriors that night, despite Curry's outburst.

    Anthony scored 35, J.R. Smith chimed in with 26 and Tyson Chandler pulled down a completely ridiculous 28 rebounds. It was an impressive showing by all parties involved.

    A year and a day after that epic contest, the Knicks and Warriors will get after it again. And while it might be difficult to live up to last year's contest—almost certainly the very best regular season game of the 2012-13 season—it's probably not going to be a good idea to miss this one.

March 25 at Los Angeles Lakers

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    The Knicks' final Western swing of the season features five games in seven days at the end of March, but the most intriguing (and possibly historical) matchup is the first one on the trip: a March 25 tilt against the Los Angeles Lakers in L.A.

    It's difficult to predict how things might shake out for the Lakers this year, but it's entirely possible that this could be the final meeting between Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. All signs indicate that Bryant's recovery is progressing well, but the fact remains that he's coming off of a catastrophic injury and is in the final year of his contract with the Lakers.

    This might be it for No. 24.

    Toss in the fact that Anthony has the ability to terminate the final year of his deal in 2014-15, and there's a decent chance that the Knicks and Lakers could both look very different at the end of next season.

    That's a lot of speculation, and it's probably not necessary to add drama to a matchup pitting two of league's most iconic franchises against one another. Still, though, this game could mark the end of a couple of eras.

    On a lighter note, it's going to be pretty fun to watch MWP return to his old stomping (and elbowing and eye-gouging) grounds, too. Here's hoping he gets a big hug from Jack Nicholson.