Headlines surrounding Westchester Knicks as postseason begins

Headlines surrounding Westchester Knicks as postseason begins

Knicks

Headlines surrounding Westchester Knicks as postseason begins

The Westchester Knicks wrapped up the 2017-18 season with an 100-96 loss to the Erie BayHawks. Westchester finished the season with a 32-18 record and nabbed their first-ever Eastern Conference Championship. The Knicks will now meet a familiar foe in the semifinals of the NBA G League Playoffs.

End of season results

Coming off a 19-31 win season a year ago, the Westchester Knicks entered the campaign with a new roster. The roster consisted of several rookies, alongside a couple of second-year players and veterans. The focal points of the team were talent and depth, which propelled them into the postseason. The opening night starting five of Trey Burke, Xavier Rathan-Mayes and Nigel Hayes were all promoted to the NBA through call-ups, while Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet saw time in The Association through the two-way contract.

Throughout the season, each player capitalized on a different role and took advantage of it. Billy Garrett continued to strive in an increased role as the season progressed. Paul Watson started out the season coming off the bench, but has seen his role grow and has been able to impact the team with his defensive presence.

At the midway point in the season, Sekou Wiggs and Zak Irvin joined the team. Both players were able to give Westchester a boost upon their arrival. Adam Woodbury and Jordan Henriquez seized their increased opportunity when Hicks and Kornet spent more time with the big club.

After missing the first 18 games of the season, Devon Baulkman carved out his role in the rotation with his defensive ability. He has been able to handle opposing players on the perimeter and can help turn defense into offense. Baulkman displayed strong shooting in several games, such as draining 4-of-6 shots from deep against the Delaware 87ers. Buay Tuach had a couple of solid outings during the season when he saw more playing time. He displayed athleticism with a couple of impressive dunks against the Erie BayHawks, while being efficient with his shot and draining 5-of-7 from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

With all the talent and depth, Westchester has shown that they are one of the top teams in the G League. Winning 32 games is one sign of a successful season, but having an entire starting five play in the NBA at the same time is another.

First-round bye

After compiling the best record in the Eastern Conference with a 32-18 record, the Westchester Knicks won’t be back in action until the semifinals. After the Raptors 905 defeated the Grand Rapids Drive on Mar. 30, the Knicks know who they will face in the semifinals. Westchester and the Raptors 905 have faced each other four times during the regular season and those games were decided by a combined 10 points. Two of those games were decided in the final five seconds of the game.

Both teams rank at the top of the G League in terms of opponent points per game. The Raptors 905 were No. 1, while Westchester wasn’t far behind. Both teams ranked in the top three in opponent field goal percentage and defensive rating. If their previous four meetings are any indication, the fifth meeting will be a great one and the victor will go to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Even though the Austin Spurs have the same record as Westchester, the Knicks won their only meeting of the season on Jan. 7. That would mean the Knicks have home court advantage throughout the entire G League playoffs.

Former Raptor Becomes A King

After not signing with the Toronto Raptors following his two 10-day contracts, Nigel Hayes was expected to return to the Westchester Knicks for the G League Playoffs. That wasn’t the case. Hayes went from the east coast to the west coast and remained in the NBA. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the Sacramento Kings signed the former Westchester forward for the remainder of the season and for the 2018-19 season. That marks Hayes’ third call-up of the season. In January, he earned a call-up with the Los Angeles Lakers. Prior to joining Sacramento, he inked two 10-day contracts with the Toronto Raptors.

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