Back in late August, the NBA announced the 2021-2022 schedule for all teams including the New York Knicks. There, it was revealed that the Knicks would be taking part in 29 nationally televised games.
Of those 29 games, 22 of them have been and will be “marquee” games since they are broadcasted on ESPN, TNT, or ABC. The other 7 games are featured on NBA TV.
Knicks in the national spotlight
This is an enormous gain for New York, who were granted the opportunity to play for the entire country just 5 times during the 2020-21 season. The Knicks even got back on the Christmas slate for 2021 thanks to their intense playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, the team they will be facing on December 25.
No doubt, this is all a result of the surprising and inspiring season the franchise had last year. The Knicks battled their way to the Eastern Conference’s fourth seed last season, led by All-Star and All-NBA newcomer Julius Randle, the Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau, and several other vital members of the organization.
So far, New York has played in 6 nationally televised games, and they have put on a show. They are 5-1 during that stretch. They captured wins versus the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers. They dropped the one game against the Toronto Raptors.
That is of course a very impressive group of teams to beat in any situation, let alone on national TV when the pressure on each team is even higher than usual. Ironically, that 5-1 record mirrors the Knicks’ start to the season. The team was so hot to start the season that they added the matchup against Chicago to the list by playing the game on NBA TV, where it originally was not scheduled.
What is even better is 4 of those games (3 wins) took place at home in Madison Square Garden, so even more of the spotlight was on the Knicks to show the NBA and its fans that last season wasn’t a fluke.
The last couple of weeks have been rough for the team, but coming off another impressive win against the Lakers on Tuesday night is the latest example of the team ruling the national stage.
The Knicks are now winners of 3 of their last 5 games, so they seem to be turning the corner and getting back to playing basketball at a consistently high level. And of course, you can’t play at such a level without having players put together huge performances.
During these 6 games, the Knicks players have done exactly that. The latest among them was Evan Fournier and Immanuel Quickley against Los Angeles. Quickley helped put the Lakers away by scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He hit 4 straight three-pointers and even dimed up Obi Toppin for a midrange jumper down the stretch.
Fournier was unconscious all night. He finished with 26 points and shot 8-for-14 from the field and 6-for-9 from downtown. 24 of those points came in just the first three quarters.
This wasn’t the only big game Fournier has had on national television in his time with New York. Who can forget the even bigger scoring explosion he had on opening night against Boston, when he also hit six 3-pointers on his way to 32 points (13-for-25) in a thrilling double-overtime game.
I will regrettably point out the single loss to Toronto came in blowout fashion. However, the Knicks were able to find themselves on the other end of a blowout when they faced Milwaukee. At first, New York was down big to the Bucks, but they erased a 21 point deficit and wound up winning by 15 points, 113-98. Julius Randle (32), Derrick Rose (23), and RJ Barrett (20) were the driving forces in that game.
Five Knicks scored in double figures as the Knicks handled Philadelphia on October 26. The entire team was great offensively (47/43/93 shooting splits), but perhaps the biggest impact came from Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson, who forced Joel Embiid to score just 14 points on 2-7 shooting.
And finally, the Knicks nearly collapsed in the final minutes against the Bulls, but they came away with the 104-103 win. They were competitive and kept the game close in the first half before taking control in the third and fourth quarters, where they lead by as many as 13 points. It was Kemba Walker whose 3-point barrage (5-6 from deep) and 21 points helped bring the team to victory.
All in all, New York has dominated early in the season when playing in primetime. Hopefully, this success continues and bleeds into their other games. The Knicks have many more opportunities still to prove doubters wrong by competing against the league’s best and making the most of these high-profile appearances.