NEW YORK -- NBA players are night owls, but count Boston Celtics first-year coach Brad Stevens among those that enjoys a basketball matinee like Sunday's noon-time tip against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
"I do, I’ve always liked them," said Stevens. "We haven’t had one yet here with our team, but I personally like them because usually you’re done with your preparations by now, anyways, and you’re just waiting the day out getting ready to play. Then you’ve got a late turnaround to what’s next. So hopefully we can play well, and then move on to what’s next a little bit earlier in the day."
Stevens also happens to have fond memories of this arena. Oh sure, Butler lost to Georgetown in the Jimmy V Classic a couple years back, but Stevens noted that Butler winning the preseason NIT here in his final year as an assistant at Butler was an all-timer. "We beat Tennessee and Gonzaga and that was great, one of my fondest memories in coaching to be honest," he said.
A couple other notes before tip-off:
KNICKS HAVE FOUND THEIR WAY: Stevens has often noted how he always prepares for a team's A-game and he's honest when he gushes about the Knicks' recent play despite a bumpy start. "It’s hard to adjust to playing without [Tyson] Chandler, initially, [but] they’ve done that now," said Stevens. "They are playing [Andrea] Bargnani at the 5 a lot and that’s a problem. It seems like they’ve found their way. And when they were losing, they weren’t losing by a lot. They were losing a lot of close games against good teams. To me, I understand the record and that’s how they are going to be evaluated because we’re in that business. To me, they’ve looked like a a good basketball team and now they look like a really good team."
HARDAWAY JR. IN STARTING 5: With Kenyon Martin (sore left ankle) out, the Knicks are starting Tim Hardaway Jr. That means Carmelo Anthony will spend more time at the 4 (likely meaning more time matched up with Brandon Bass after the two often jousted in last year's playoffs). New York's other starters: Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, and Bargnani.