Matchup Preview: Orlando Magic vs New York Knicks


Over the next month, we’ll be talking with a variety of people who cover each NBA team to find out a little bit about their team, and how they expect the season to go. We’ll also find out what they believe will be the most intriguing matchup when the two team’s meet during the regular season. Continuing with the Eastern Conference, we move to the Atlantic Division for a look at the New York Knicks. Buckets Over Broadway’s James Griffo joins us. He can be found on twitter @j_griff. 

Game Dates 

Wednesday, November 12th @ New York 

Friday, January 23rd @ New York 

Wednesday, February 11th @ Orlando 

Saturday, April 11th @ Orlando 

Last Season: 37-45; Finished Ninth in Eastern Conference 

December 6th: New York 121 Orlando 83 

December 23rd: Orlando 98 New York 103 

February 21st: Orlando 129 New York 121 2OT 

Projected Starters

Point Guard: Jose Calderon

Shooting Guard: Iman Shumpert 

Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony 

Power Forward: Amar’e Stoudemire

Center: Samuel Dalembert 

Apr 2, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (5) goes up for a layup over Brooklyn Nets forward Mirza Teletovic (33) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The New York Knicks won 110-81. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Q: Tim Hardaway Jr was impressive in his rookie season. What does he have to do to take the next step this season?

A: THJ was one of the brightest spots on last year’s disaster of a team. He looked like the steal of the 2013 draft class with his ability to knock down three-pointers at a decent rate and at the right time. But as adept as he is when it comes to shooting — not when he borrows shooting philosophies from J.R Smith — and running like the Road Runner on fast breaks, there comes one caveat: His defense was six feet under the hardwood. 

THJ posted a 112 Offensive Rating (ORtg) last season, which is very good. But also, he posted a 114 Defensive Rating (DRtg), making his case for the team defensive antithesis — then again, that’s debatable, because, you know, Amar’e Stoudemire. Make no mistake, the Knicks play atrocious defense. Mike Woodson‘s infamous switching schemes ranked them 24th in team DRtg, allowing 109.1 points per 100 possessions last season. 

For example: The Lakers— the tanking Lakers— scored 51 points against them in one quarter (51 POINTS). But still, for a budding talent like THJ, it’s still imperative for him to learn the tricks of the trade on the defensive end, like not getting stuck onto screens and, simply, not guarding his primary assignment. There is no doubt about it that defense will be the issue Hardaway needs to address this upcoming season.  

May 2, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Jose Calderon (8) reacts after hitting a three point shot during the game against the San Antonio Spurs in game six of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Q: How different of a dynamic do you see the offense having with Jose Calderon running the point instead of Raymond Felton, and Samuel Dalembert in the middle instead of Tyson Chandler

A: First off: The fact that Phil Jackson seduced a team to take Raymond Felton was stupendous. It was probably the most miraculous thing that has happened this offseason so far. When I first heard that the Knicks got Jose Calderon in that same trade, I was elated. The Knicks will have an absolutely better floor general, a point guard that is the epitome of a pass-first distributor, as well as being a perfect fit for Derek Fisher‘s implementation of the triangle offense. Yes, both are the same defensively, in that they get incinerated by opposing ball handlers, but marginally, Calderon was a better defender last year, because no one was able to take one last second of Felton’s fatness. I actually wrote about how Knick fans should be looking forward to watching Calderon run the point a few weeks ago.   

As for Dalembert taking over Tyson Chandler‘s rim protecting responsibilities? I’m convinced that Dalembert’s 80 game mobility from last season will go into this upcoming season. Sure, people may look at him as a downgrade compared to Tyson, but Tyson has had nagging injuries, including a fractured knee that shelved him for awhile earlier last year. Dalembert as the main rim protector should be interesting to watch. Veteran leadership at center (the term “veteran leadership” should be familiar to Knick fans from 2012-13)!   

Q: What matchup will you be watching when the Magic and Knicks meet?

More from Games

A: I would like to see Tobias Harris guarding Carmelo Anthony. Harris is a nice versatile hybrid-forward that has a long wingspan, and someone who can pester ball handlers. His defensive metrics don’t make it seem like that (107 DRtg), but regardless, having a long wingspan does help when defending. After all, Melo has a track record of torching the Magic in Orlando (excuse me for that). Also, a sophomore showdown of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Victor Oladipo should be intriguing. 

Q: What kind of expectations should this Knicks team have? Could we see a return to the playoffs this season? 

A: I think a carbon copy of what happened last year seems very predictable: An 8th seed tug-of-war. But some would argue that they could very well end up as the 9th, 10th or even the 11th seed. Let’s say they’re in contention for the 8th seed; it’s tough to say which team could be in their way of snagging the 8th seed (hey, maybe it could be the Magic. Who knows? Probably not, though.) It’s a colossal toss-up. 

The Pacers without Paul George and Lance Stephenson have been massively downgraded to an 8th seed in preseason projections (as they should be), the Hawks could be the top 8th seed contender (and 7th seed) and the Knicks obstacle, again, like last year and the Nets could interfere with that as well. If Derek Fisher can lead the Knicks to a .500 finish in his inaugural season, I would be very happy with that. At the most, I can see this Knicks team being a 7th seed. Hopefully D-Fish will jump onto the bandwagon of former players achieving success as a coach in his first couple of years (I see you, Jeff Hornacek and Jason Kidd). Very eager to see what he can provide.