The Knicks couldn't be any happier to kick off their season on the right foot with a 126-107 win over the Hawks at The Garden on opening night. But they also know it's only Game 1, and there are 81 tough games left to go on their journey.
Though improvements are expected, one aspect of the Knicks' game that flourished last night was their pace of play. The attention to getting out in transition was key in collecting quick buckets to rack up the score, especially in the second half.
Rookie guard Allonzo Trier said the execution of getting stops on defense and pushing the ball up quickly was exactly what the Knicks planned to do. And it worked.
"I feel like we had good moments where the pace was right," he said after practice Thursday. "Obviously the key to that, to getting the correct pace is by us getting stops on defense and being able to get out and push the transition. So obviously there's still some things we can correct and continue to fine tune. But I think, overall for Game 1, I think we got off to a good start with the pace."
Head coach David Fizdale added that even when the Hawks scored, the Knicks didn't waste any time moving the ball up and getting set up in their offensive scheme.
"When the ball goes through the net, we made a conscious effort to try to get it up the court as fast as possible and get into our stuff," Fizdale said. "The guys kept a real sustained concentration on executing that."
Fizdale has been preaching hustle and aggression since being named the Knicks' new head coach, and that mindset looks to be settling in after last night's performance. Center Noah Vonleh also pointed out the Knicks' want to make teams feel uncomfortable all night long.
"We want to put pressure on guys and make them uncomfortable kinda like we did last night with Trae Young. We didn't want him to come in here, have a big night to start his season off. So just pressuring the ball 94 feet, making it tough for guys, making them uncomfortable, take them out [of] their offense. That's what we want our identity to be all season long."
They may not be the most skilled, but if the Knicks can out-hustle and cash in on quick, transition buckets, they could surprise everyone this season. It's always good to get Game 1 in the win column.