We know the Knicks will be in Milwaukee on opening night and we know they’ll be home watching the games with the rest of us on Christmas and we know they’ll be in Indiana for their final regular season matchup.
The question is: When this schedule is over, where will they be?
After a busy offseason of rebuilding by Phil Jackson and Steve Mills, the new-look Knicks, with a healthy Carmelo Anthony, begin the season on Oct. 28 against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Since so many of you ask, let’s take an early guess at the opening night starting lineup:
Two positions are variable: Point guard (rookie Jerian Grant could push Jose Calderon if the veteran struggles on defense) and power forward (Derrick Williams and Kyle O’Quinn are other options if the Knicks don’t want to push Kris Porzingis into a starting role too quickly).
Opening night at The Garden comes on a back-to-back, as the Knicks will host the Atlanta Hawks — fresh off a 60-win season as the No. 1 team in the East — on Oct. 29.
Here’s the good news: Seven of the first 11 games are on The Garden court. However, five of those games are against playoff teams, like the Hawks, Spurs, Bucks, Cavaliers and Pelicans.
Also in that mix is a rare Sunday afternoon game in the fall: Nov. 8 against the Lakers at 3:30 p.m. This could be Kobe Bryant’s final game at Madison Square Garden, his favorite stage and the place where he once set The Garden scoring record with 61 points against the Knicks in 2009. Melo later broke that record with 62 points against Charlotte in 2014.
Bryant hasn’t officially announced anything yet, but is hinting to it.
“Could this be the last [season]?” he recently told Yahoo! Sports. “Absolutely.”
Overall, the schedule is a bit kinder to the Knicks in regards to rest, but that is the case for most of the NBA as commissioner Adam Silver kept his word on a promise to limit clustering games. The Knicks this season will play just 17 back-to-backs, after having 20 last season, and don’t have one stretch of four games in five nights, which had become a notorious trait in the NBA schedule.
The Knicks won’t be part of the Christmas Day lineup for the first time in seven years. In fact, they may not even be home for Christmas, as the team will be in Cleveland on Dec. 23 and then Atlanta on Dec. 26.
While that holiday tradition will stop this year, the Knicks will again be part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day lineup for the 17th straight season. They’ll host the 76ers on Jan. 18 at The Garden.
The longest road trip of the season comes in March, which is traditionally when the Knicks take to the road because of the Big East Tournament and other college basketball events. The Knicks will play six straight games on the road, including a five-game West Coast trip that Jackson is sure to enjoy. In the midst of the trip, the schedule keeps the Knicks in Los Angeles for a long weekend from March 10-14, with games against the Clippers and Lakers.
The season ends sort of like it begins, with a lot of home games. Four of the final six games are at The Garden. The regular season ends against the Pacers in Indiana on April 12.
Will the Knicks be part of the playoff schedule after that?
One guarantee is that we will have all the coverage on MSG Network, from six preseason games (to be announced soon) to opening night, to Game 82 and, hopefully beyond.