It’s here, it’s finally here. The New York Knicks will play a regular season basketball game tonight in Memphis against the Grizzlies. The preseason was fun, but it’s time for the real thing.
The Knicks will start their 82-game slate off with a tough test against a team that finished with the second-best record in the league last year at 56-26. The Grizzlies were topped by the Warriors in the conference semifinals, so Wednesday starts their journey toward what they hope will be a deep playoff run.
The odds are in Memphis’ favor in the season opener, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if New York were to win this game. Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s take look at what fans should realistically expect to see from the Knicks at FedExForum.
3 realistic expectations for Knicks’ regular-season opener against Grizzlies
3: Knicks’ defense to slow down the Grizzlies
New York’s defense won’t have room for many mistakes against Memphis, who finished fifth in offensive rating last season. Ja Morant’s coming off a preseason where he averaged 32.1 points per 36 minutes, and the Knicks should expect him to come out hot.
In order for New York to have a chance to win, Morant’s going to need to feel the pressure. He’s quick and flashy, but with RJ Barrett no longer having to carry the load on the offensive end, we could see Barrett contain Morant.
With Mitchell Robinson down low, the Grizzlies should struggle in the paint, especially with Jaren Jackson Jr. out. His interior defense is what could end up keeping the Knicks in the game.
Defense is Tom Thibodeau’s specialty, and he’s had a couple of months now to think about how to attack Memphis’ offense. New York needs to establish a strong defensive identity similar to the one that it had two years ago, and it’ll start with Morant and the Grizzlies.