Nets @ Bulls December 28 2016

This was an interesting game for the Bulls. They had a terrible start going 9-0 down and needing to call a time out with 9.48 to go in the first. Whatever coach Hoiberg said clearly worked though as the Bulls scored out of the time out. 

They had a challenge ahead of them but by 2.50 to go in the first they had managed to get a one point lead and even finished the quarter three points ahead. 

Given the Nets performance away from home this season you would have been forgiven for thinking that this would not be an overly difficult game for the Bulls. Perhaps it was this optimism that led to them seeming just a little off their game. 

The second quarter started in much the same way as the first with the Bulls failing to score in the first two minutes, while allowing the Nets to score 5. 

From there the second quarter stayed tight, with neither team able to take a big lead and the Bulls found themselves going into the half down by 3. 

The third started better for the Bulls but although they fought to keep it close they did allow the Nets to sit in be lead for most of the quarter. At points, with the Nets 7 points ahead, it seemed that they might win the game. 

The fourth was close, although for most of it the Nets were ahead. With 2.50 to go they were 7 points ahead but they Bulls fought back, bringing the game level with 1.22 to go. 

By this point the crowd was completely on the edge of their seats ( in many cases standing) willing their team on. 

The final minute was what basketball games are for, the Bulls took a 2 point lead, the Nets levelled the score and then as the clock ran down Jimmy Butler had the ball, would he make the shot? Would it go in?

Yes and yes. 

In the final second he released the ball and made the shot!

Bulls win! 

New York for basketball

 
If you want a holiday that allows you to fit in a lot of basketball then New York should be high on your list.  

New York is home to 2 NBA teams (New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets), 2 NBA d-league teams (Westchester Knicks and Long Island Nets) and 1 WNBA team (New York Liberty) and I haven’t even started on the college teams.

If you base yourself in Manhattan it’s going to be fairly easy to get to watch all of these teams (as long as you go in season). I was in New York for four days over Christmas and managed to take in three live games, it would have been four but I drew the limit at the prices for the final game on offer (Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Centre).

New York Knicks and New York Liberty are both based at Madison Square Garden (the world’s most famous arena) on Manhattan itself. So if that is where you are based you will be able to walk there, or take the subway.

Westchester Knicks are based in White Plains at the Westchester County Centre, this is easily accessible by train from Grand Central. Once off the train it is a short walk to the venue.

Brooklyn Nets are based in Brooklyn at the Barclays Centre. This is very well served by the subway and the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

For 2016/17 the Long Island Nets are also based there. When they move to Long Island for the start of the 2017/18 they will be at the Nassau Coliseum.

New York itself is super easy to get to with two international airports – John F Kennedy and Newark (okay technically this is in New Jersey but it’s well served by buses to get you into Manhattan within one hour which is not much longer than getting in from JFK). Flights won’t be cheap but there is a range of airlines to choose from and you ca get good deals.

If you plan ahead you can get a lot of basketball for your travel. The NBA and NBA d-league seasons overlap but the WNBA play in summer so you are unlikely to be able to fit in games with all three leagues in one trip but you can definitely find a spot in the year that will allow you to see both NBA teams and both d-league teams in one trip.

Of course New York has hundreds of other activities to offer (including ice-hockey, baseball, NFL, soccer and apparently some non sports related activities) and from New York you can easily get to other parts of the US or even go to Canada to fit in more basketball.

Christmas Day Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks

The NBA traditionally plays Christmas Day games and this year was no exception with the Celtics @ the Knicks kicking things off. 

MSG seemed a little off their game as they were later than normal in allowing fans in to the venue and seemed to be practicing heightened crowd control (of course this was New York on Christmas Day so precautions are understandable).

The Knicks are having a good season, certainly better than some of the results would suggest. This was a highly anticipated match up following on from the dramatic game earlier in the season which saw Carmelo Anthony being removed from the game and KP picking up a technical foul as well.

All the players seemed to be excited for the match up and there was palpable anticipation among the crowd. The crowd started off fairly quiet but as the game progressed the volume rose and you easily hear the chants of ‘defence’ or ‘let’s go Knicks’. The Garden is known for this and it really is something to be part of the experience.

After the game Walt ‘Clyde’ Frasier commented on the atmosphere saying “you could hear all the oohs and ahhs, it was like Linsanity”

I’m not sure it was quite that, but every dubious decision by the referees was met with strong booing from the crowd, while a good play was met with loud cheers.

There was a sense that the Knicks may have started on the Christmas dinner a little early as they seemed sluggish at times. Noah is under a lot of pressure to perform this season, and is jeered when he fumbles or misses an easy rebound however he was not the only one to fumble the ball during this game (looking at you Melo).

Overall though it wasn’t a bad game for the Knicks, to suggest that is the reason they lost is to suggest that the Celtics are a bad team, which they are not – they were sitting second in the division gong in to the game. They have some great players including the lightening fast Isaiah Thomas, who scored 27 points in this game.

The Knicks lost this game on a couple of things- turnovers (17 to Boston’s 6), steals (5 to Boston’s 10) and shot selection, with marginally lower percentages in both FGs and three point shots. There were some media exports following this game claiming that isolation play was a big factor but I just don’t see that, this was a close game. The previous two home wins had 4 and 6 players in double digit points respectively, this game had 4 as well so I’s not out of the ordinary.

The team just need to keep focusing on being a team, finding the open man and staying awake on defence.

Raptors 905 @ Westchester Knicks – Friday 23 December 2016

It was the Knicks last game before Christmas and the festive spirit was in full flow. The Knicks had gone all out to make sure Santa was present for the smaller attendees. They also had a special winter hat giveaway for the first 1000 fans through the door. Presents for almost all.


 The Westchester Knicks are the d-league affiliate of the New York Knicks and they know how to put on a show, very much taking the lead from their basketball ‘big brothers’. They have cheerleaders, in the style of the Knicks Dancers, a mascot (Hudson the dog) and frequent entertainment during the game breaks including t-shirt giveaways and competitions for children.

The entertainment highlight on this occasion was the half court shot, the guy made it and the entire place erupted.


The Westchester Knicks had access to some of the NY Knicks players for this game (N’dour, Baker and Plumlee), so the fans were treated to discounted performances from some NBA stars in addition to the d-league stars. This doesn’t happen at every game but it also not unusual in a league that allows the NBA teams to send players down and recall them as needed.  

There are some talented players on this team – most notably Crawford (he’s small but he’s fast with a wicked three point shot), Randle (I would not be surprised if he is in the NBA next season) and Wafer.

The Knicks had some good plays but they seemed to run out of energy on too many occasions. It also has to be said that while the NBA players got good minutes they did not live up to expectations and were pretty much outplayed by the d-league players (this may have been because they had assumed it would have been an easier game).

The Westchester County Centre is a friendly local centre that feels like home. I don’t know what the venue is used for on non game nights but I can imagine that it is very much part of the local community.

Raptors 905 @ Westchester Knicks – Friday 23 December 2016

It was the Knicks last game before Christmas and the festive spirit was in full flow. The Knicks had gone all out to make sure Santa was present for the smaller attendees. They also had a special winter hat giveaway for the first 1000 fans through the door. Presents for almost all. The Westchester Knicks are the d-league affiliate of the New York Knicks and they know how to put on a show, very much taking the lead from their basketball ‘big brothers’. They have cheerleaders, in the style of the Knicks Dancers, a mascot (Hudson the dog) and frequent entertainment during the game breaks including t-shirt giveaways and competitions for children.

The entertainment highlight on this occasion was the half court shot, the guy made it and the entire place erupted.

The Westchester Knicks had access to some of the NY Knicks players for this game (N’dour, Baker and Plumlee), so the fans were treated to discounted performances from some NBA stars in addition to the d-league stars. This doesn’t happen at every game but it also not unusual in a league that allows the NBA teams to send players down and recall them as needed.  
There are some talented players on this team – most notably Crawford (he’s small but he’s fast with a wicked three point shot), Randle (I would not be surprised if he is in the NBA next season) and Wafer.

The Knicks had some good plays but they seemed to run out of energy on too many occasions. It also has to be said that while the NBA players got good minutes they did not live up to expectations and were pretty much outplayed by the d-league players (this may have been because they had assumed it would have been an easier game).

The Westchester County Centre is a friendly local centre that feels like home. I don’t know what the venue is used for on non game nights but I can imagine that it is very much part of the local community.

Barclays Centre 

This is the home venue for the Brooklyn Nets and for this season only the Long Island Nets (Brooklyn’s d-league affiliate). 

I’ve been to the venue a few times already  – during All Star 2015 and more recently for a Knicks @ Nets game. On those occasions I had a good experience of the venue however when I attended yesterday for a Long Island Nets game they really let themselves down. 

They decided to open the doors only 30 minutes before tip. This is not really a problem except that fans had arrived for doors being an hour before tip, and box office staff confirmed this time. Making people wait in the cold for 30 minutes with no explanation is not good customer service. 

When they finally let us in there was only one open concession stand. In fairness this was probably enough given the small numbers in attendance but it was clear that the focus of the day was on setting up for that evening’s Brooklyn Nets game. 

The staff in the venue were all really friendly, I genuinely don’t think the bad experience was anything to do with them. The problem is that the Barclay Centre is too big a venue for a d-league game and it is clearly costing the owners too much to keep using it as one. This does seem like an issue that would have been obvious at the start though. 

Venue – this is an NBA venue and holds just over 18,000 people. It’s a well designed venue and I’m don’t think here would be a bad view regardless of where you were sitting and of course there is a jumbo tron as well. 

The layout does mean that the lower bowl experiences drafts though this is only really noticeable during games with low attendance. 

Accessibility- the venue has its own station so is accessible from most parts of  New York. As I am usually based in Manhatten I take the 2 or 3 and it’s about 30 minutes to the venue. Once you get off the train the exit to the venue is well signposted. 

You could drive but given the range of public transport options I think it would be easier to use public transport, especially for big games. Having left the venue to head to the subway after big games I can say that the station is well managed and it does not take long to get on a train. 

Merchandise- on Brooklyn game days there are multiple points on the concourse to purchase team merchandise. On Long Island days there is one which has limited stock. 

Concessions – Barclays Centre has put some thought into this. There is a large bar area as well as numerous stands selling beer, popcorn, hotdogs, pizza etc. All the usual stuff you would expect from an NBA venue. We got 2 hotdogs and 3 small soft drinks for $24 

Just remember that on Long Island days your options are more limited and I don’t think they sell alcohol. 

Entertainment- the NBA is known for the entertainment that happens around the game with cheerleaders, t-shirt giveaways and on court competitions adding to the fun. At the Brooklyn games you can definitely expect all of this so you won’t be bored if you stay in your sat during breaks in play.

For Long Island Nets games do not expect any of this. You might get the odd opportunity to watch two fans challenge each other to take free throws but that’s about it. Which is a shame as other d-league franchises put the effort in here and make sure the fans energy levels stay high. 

Ticket prices – Brooklyn tickets are typical of NBA tickets in a big market. Book in advance if you want to guarantee attendance and be prepared to pay upwards of $60 (and even then you will be in the back row). 

Long Island Nets play nose games behind closed doors but when they do open them a general admission ticket will cost you $15 and a courtside seat is $50. 

All in all go for a Brooklyn game but if you want to see Long Island Nets is skip the limited open games and wait until they get to their permanent home.