The Knicks begin Year 2 of the Tom Thibodeau era Wednesday night against the Celtics. Here are three bold predictions and five games to watch as the 2021-22 NBA season tips off.
Three Bold Predictions
1. Damian Lillard is traded at the deadline but to the Raptors — not the Knicks
2. Kemba Walker, dealing with a balky left knee, plays fewer than 65 games.
3. Somehow there’s a fan-related episode as owner James Dolan, who was invisible during the pandemic season, returns to his baseline seat by the Knicks bench after a one-year hiatus.
Five Games to Watch
Oct. 28 at Chicago: It’s “Joakim Noah Night” as the resurgent Bulls celebrate their former star center with his former coach Tom Thibodeau and old teammates Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson in the house. Knicks fans — and former president Phil Jackson — can only lament the occasion: The Manhattan product’s salary is still on the books.
Nov. 23 vs. Lakers: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook make their lone visit. Anthony will look weird in purple and gold.
Nov. 30 at Brooklyn: Orange and blue will abound in the Barclays Center stands as the 100 percent vaccinated Knicks visit the Nets, who likely will be minus Kyrie Irving as this rivalry gets bigger and bolder.
Dec. 25 vs. Atlanta: There’s nothing like Christmas Day in the city with the tall tree in Rockefeller Center, the holiday display store windows, the return of international tourists and “Trae [Young] is Balding’’ chants at the Garden.
Jan. 12 vs. Dallas: The Dallas Knicks, coached by Jason Kidd, are in town with the latest defector in Frank Ntilikina. Kristaps Porzingis will always be booed mercilessly (they should actually boo his brother Janis) while Knicks fans can stay oddly ambivalent over Tim Hardaway Jr.’s emergence as a standout.