In late August, the NBA announced the 2021-2022 schedule for all teams, including the New York Knicks. There, it was revealed that the Knicks would be competing in 29 nationally televised games.
Of those 29 games, 22 have been and will be “marquee” games since they aired on ESPN, TNT or ABC. The other 7 games can be seen on NBA TV.
Knicks in the national spotlight
This is a huge asset to New York, who only got 5 chances to play for the entire country in the 2020-21 season. The Knicks even made it back to the 2021 Christmas list thanks to their intense playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, the team they will face on December 25.
Undoubtedly, this is all the result of the surprising and inspiring season the franchise had last year. The Knicks fought their way to the fourth seed of the Eastern Conference last season, led by All-Star and All-NBA newcomer Julius Randle, Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau and several other vital members of the organization.
So far, New York has played in 6 nationally televised matches and they have put on a show. They are 5-1 during that piece. They won against the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Chicago Bulls, Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. They dropped the one game against the Toronto Raptors.
That’s obviously a very impressive group of teams to beat in any situation, let alone on national TV when the pressure on each team is even higher than usual. Ironically, that 5-1 record reflects the start of the Knicks’ season. The team was so excited to start the season that they added the game against Chicago to the list by playing the game on NBA TV, where it was not originally scheduled.
What’s even better is that 4 of those games (3 wins) took place at home at Madison Square Garden, so the Knicks took even more spotlight to show the NBA and its fans that last season was no fluke.
The last few weeks have been tough for the team, but another impressive win against the Lakers on Tuesday night is the latest example of the team ruling the national stage.
The Knicks are now winners of 3 of their last 5 games, so they seem to be turning the corner and playing basketball at a consistently high level again. And of course you can’t play at such a level without players putting in huge achievements.
During these 6 games, the Knicks players have done just that. The last among them were Evan Fournier and Immanuel Quickley against Los Angeles. Quickley helped clear the Lakers by scoring 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He hit 4 straight three-pointers and even dimmed Obi Toppin for a midrange jumper along the stretch.
Fournier was unconscious all night. He finished with 26 points and shot 8-for-14 from the field and 6-for-9 from the center. 24 of those points came in the first three quarters.
This wasn’t the only big game Fournier had on national television during his time with New York. Who can forget the even bigger scoring explosion he had on opening night against Boston, when he also hit six 3-pointers en route to 32 points (13-for-25) in a thrilling double overtime.
I will sadly point out that the single loss to Toronto came in a banger. However, the Knicks could find themselves on the other side of a blowout when they faced Milwaukee. At first, New York was big for the Bucks, but they cleared a 21-point deficit and went on to win 15 points, 113-98. Julius Randle (32), Derrick Rose (23) and RJ Barrett (20) were the driving forces in that game.
Five Knicks scored in double digits when the Knicks settled Philadelphia on October 26. The whole team was great offensively (47/43/93 shooting splits), but perhaps the biggest impact came from Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson, forcing Joel Embiid to score just 14 points on 2-7 shooting.
And finally, the Knicks nearly collapsed against the Bulls in the closing minutes, but they came away with the 104–103 win. They were competitive and kept the game close in the first half before taking control in the third and fourth quarters where they had a whopping 13 point lead. It was Kemba Walker whose 3-point barrage (5-6 from deep) and 21 points propelled the team to victory.
Overall, New York dominated early in the season in primetime play. Hopefully this success will continue and spill over into their other games. The Knicks have many more opportunities to prove doubters wrong by competing against the best in the league and making the most of these high-profile performances.