The Westchester Knicks saw a collective effort from many of their players Wednesday night, which propelled them to a 95-82 victory over the Windy City Bulls in the first round of the 2019 NBA G League Playoffs. The win marked the team’s first postseason victory in franchise history.
Billy Garrett and Jameel Warney each recorded 20 points, while Garrett tied a career-high 12 assists and Warney grabbed 14 rebounds. Zak Irvin tallied his eighth double-double of the season with 19 points (8/16 FG) and 14 rebounds.
Westchester came out strong early in the game. The Knicks were strong on the defensive end as a unit and held the Bulls to 12 points on 28.3 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter. Head coach Mike Miller attributed the team’s first quarter with being locked in on the defensive plan and how the players knew their personnel.
“I thought we really were locked in defensively,” Miller said. “I thought we were making them take some tough shots. And we were taking tough shots. Fortunately, Billy (Garrett) got some looks and he made them, so that kind of put us in a good spot. We got back from Erie Sunday afternoon. Got them in and we got in a little bit of a workout Monday. A little bit of a workout Tuesday. Really worked on the game plan Tuesday. Did a little walkthrough this morning just to go over it again. I thought the guys were really in. I think they knew their personnel, who they were playing against, and really tried to carry out.”
Paul Watson’s defensive presence has been stellar this season. He has shown he can take on the defensive anchor role on the team and contain the opposing team’s top offensive player.
“The unsung part about this is he always takes the best player,” Miller told reporters following the game. “We put him on (Walter) Lemon. We put him on (Mychal) Mulder. We just keep switching him back and forth and nobody ever notices. He’s always guarding their leading scorers then he keeps playing. His overall game has continued to evolve.”
After picking up the franchise’s first postseason victory, Garrett said the team celebrated the win, but there’s more to be accomplished.
“It felt good. We celebrated. We definitely celebrated the victory. But at the same time, it’s more on the plate to finish. We laughed and joked about the game. Had a good time in the locker room, but tomorrow morning we’ll come out. New focus. New team and come out and try to do the same thing on Friday.”
There were several members of the New York organization at the Westchester County Center to support the team. Kadeem Allen, Noah Vonleh, Emmanuel Mudiay, Damyean Dotson, and Kevin Knox were seated courtside. New York Knicks Vice President of player development Craig Robinson, Knicks’ President Steve Mills, Knicks’ General Manager Scott Perry, and Westchester General Manager Allan Houston were in attendance.
Westchester’s head coach said it was great getting support from the organization and detailed how in sync the two teams are.
“It’s been outstanding. It’s been so fun,” Miller said. “From the beginning, they’ve been so inclusive with everything and so helpful trying to grow this organization. As coaches and even the players, we want this to be an asset for the Knicks and to be able to bring guys. Every year someone has gone up to the Knicks. We’re working well in sync to give them options and then they’re putting us in a great position to be successful and help these guys along the way.”
Wednesday wasn't the first time the New York Knicks have come out to support Westchester in the postseason. It continues to show the connection between the NBA and G League team.
“It feels good to know they take time out of their day to come check us out and spend time watching the game,” Garrett said. “We’re all in the same facility. Obviously we played Summer League together, so we’re cool with everybody and it feels good to have that support.”
The Westchester Knicks will take on the Lakeland Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Miller believes part of the preparation for Friday’s game is getting the team ready.
“It’s a little bit early to jump into it,” Miller said. “We just played them about three weeks ago and I know they’d played really well, so we have a little bit of a feel for them and how they play and what we’re going to have to do and what we need to do better. I think part of it is just getting the guys ready. (Stephen) Zimmerman, Isaiah (Hicks), and Zak (Irvin); they’re all coming off injuries, so use tomorrow to come back. Tomorrow will be the mental part of putting it together and then it will be time to play again, so it’s going to have to be quick and to the point.”
The game between Knicks and Magic will take place on Friday in Lakeland, Florida at 7 pm. The game will be broadcast on Twitch.