Even though it’s just the preseason, you know the NBA has returned when there are back-to-back New York Knicks exhibition games on the schedule. Kristaps Porzingis didn’t play at his former stomping ground on Monday because Boston played the day before its matchup against New York.
Julius Randle, who is 100% after an offseason ankle surgery, played in only 13 minutes of the Knicks’ 114-107 win over the Celtics. Jalen Brunson played in less than half the minutes (6) that Randle did. The point guard had a busy offseason, headlined by playing for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup, so he doesn’t need to overdo it in meaningless contests.
New York has three preseason games left, with the next one being on Saturday, Oct. 14 against Minnesota. After that, the Knicks will play the Celtics again on Tuesday, Oct. 17, in Boston before returning to the city to host the Wizards for their preseason finale on Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Randle didn’t comment on the reasoning behind back-to-back exhibition games, but he made it clear that he won’t be playing in both contests.
Knicks preseason back-to-backs give Julius Randle a good opportunity to rest
The Athletic’s Fred Katz made sense of the senseless by explaining why New York has back-to-backs in the preseason (subscription required).
"The Knicks aren’t the only ones who use the Garden. The Rangers play two home games next week. There are concerts on the docket, as well. Boston also has hockey, basketball and concerts. So does Washington. It makes planning games for those three teams (organizations agree to multiyear deals to play each other in the preseason) a logistical mess."
The biggest disadvantage goes to the players battling for final roster spots who can’t afford to miss a game as a healthy scratch, like Julius Randle. At least players’ bodies aren’t yet worn down from the long season.
If Randle plays against the Celtics next Tuesday, don’t expect to go to MSG and see him in action on Wednesday. The same goes for all of the Knicks’ key players. As Randle said on Monday, he’ll be back to playing 35 minutes per game soon enough in the regular season.