The Knicks Fix: ‘Expected’ Results, Expecting Improvement

The issues the Knicks showed in Derek Fisher

‘s coaching debut was, as he put it, “kind of expected.” Twenty-eight turnovers, 40.6% shooting from the field, with a defense that yielded 106 points and 48.8% shooting, is hardly the kind of ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new era.

Whenever there is a major regime change with a franchise, there is a desperate need for immediate change. Something to signify that the issues of the past, the troubles that plagued the team before, would be eradicated. That didn’t happen on the first night of preseason and like anyone in charge would do, Fisher shrugged it off.

“When we start to reach our goals and objectives,” he said, “we won’t remember the score from our first preseason games of the season.”

Fisher and Phil Jackson, with plenty of successful history as evidence, strongly believe in the Triangle Offense as an effective system to employ. They also know that it isn’t a simple system that is implemented easily after one week of training camp.

“It’s not something that’s coming automatic right now,” Jose Calderon said. “It’s going to be automatic soon.”

That’s the belief, despite what things looked like in Wednesday night’s debut in Hartford. Perhaps we can relate it to how Eli Manning and the Giants looked in the NFL preseason running Ben McAdoo’s West Coast Offense. Four weeks into the regular season, Manning and his new offense has found a rhythm.

Fisher and the Knicks are hoping for a similar learning curve.

“What’s most challenging for players early on in this system is that things will work out,” Fisher said.

Actually, there was a lot of trust despite the mistakes. As Fisher pointed out, the Knicks assist-to-field goals made rate was impressive, with 20 assists on 28 FGMs. The issues involved the turnovers — 28 of them, which led to 33 points for the Celtics — and shooting.

“That shows the guys are trying to trust each other,” Fisher said, “and play the right way.”

The Knicks did move the ball and rarely took “bad” shots. But they didn’t make many of the ones that the offense created for them. And here’s something interesting to note: Over the last five years, the Knicks have been among the NBA’s leaders in three-point shooting, but on this night they made just 5 of 24 from beyond the arc. J.R. Smith, for example, was 1-for-5.

The fair argument, of course, is that while patience can be afforded for a team learning a new system, there is no reason for defense to struggle as the Knicks effort did against Boston. Fisher pointed to the turnovers, which, yes, led to a big part of the struggle, but also to an effort issue that was the result of frustration from the problems on offense.

There will be six more preseason games, including Saturday against the same Celtics

team at 7:30 p.m. on MSG Network. More time to develop the chemistry, trust and flow that is obviously in its embryonic stage.

FIXINS

  • Who looked more ready to play in the preseason opener than Tim Hardaway Jr.? The All-Rookie team selection, who has bulked up since his rookie season, looked very aggressive on offense as he produced 18 points in 21 minutes. He only took six shots, but did a great job drawing fouls and was 10-for-11 from the line. He also had six rebounds from the guard position. One issue: Turnovers. Of the team’s 28, he had five.
  • Jason Smith was excused from the game for personal reasons, which he later revealed on his Instagram account to be a very special occasion. His wife was scheduled to give birth.
  • Andrea Bargnani was given the start at power forward and, early on, looked very active and effective on offense with six points in the first quarter. But, as we saw last season, that effort waned as the game went on. Bargnani finished with 8 points in 19 minutes and was minus-11.
  • Rookie Cleanthony Early
  • made his NBA preseason debut and made his first shot from three-point range. Early played 18 minutes and scored five points.
  • Calderon had a decent game at the point, but it’s worth keeping an eye on who emerges as his primary backup in the rotation. Shane Larkin has speed, but he really struggled at both ends of the court and got most of the minutes (23) behind Calderon. Pablo Prigioni missed all three of his attempts from downtown while posting an unsightly minus-22 in 14 minutes.
  • So we debuted the new MSG Studio in the postgame broadcast Wednesday night. What did you think? Not only does it feature large video screens and amazing colors, there is also a telestrator for Wallyball and I to play with when we break down the game. We’re only giving you a little taste in the preseason of everything this new studio can do. There’s so much more to come once we get into the hour-long postgame shows in the regular season.
  • Our next broadcast is Saturday when the Knicks play the Celtics
    • again, this time at Mohegan Sun. We’ll have the coverage just before tip-off at 7:30 p.m. and following the game a half-hour #NYKExtra as well.

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.