(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The NBA season tipped off last night, but the bulk of teams will take the court tonight. In an Eastern Conference showdown, the Knicks will start the season on the road, heading to Milwaukee to take on an up-and-coming Bucks squad that many predict will take an impressive jump this season.

The Bucks who made it back to the postseason last year are looking to build on that success and secure one of the top four spots in the Eastern Conference, assuring themselves of home-court advantage in round one. In an 82-game season nothing is assured and they will begin the season without Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo, two key members of the roster.

Milwaukee was 13-12 last season when Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 draft, went down with a torn ACL in his left knee. Parker, who was averaging 12.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, is expected to return in early November.

The Bucks ranked 19th with a minus-0.8 rebounding margin and their new addition, former-Piston Greg Monroe, should help add some much-needed muscle down low. Monroe, who turned down an offer from the Knicks, averaged 15.9 points and 10.2 rebounds last season.

Times are tougher for New York (15-67 last season), which plummeted to the worst record in franchise history just two years after winning the Atlantic Division title and a playoff series. Phil Jackson attempted to sign big-name free agents, but had to settle for Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, Kyle O’Quinn, Kevin Seraphin and Sasha Vujacic.

Afflalo was projected to start in the backcourt after averaging 13.3 points with Denver and Portland. However, he could be out for up to two weeks because of a strained left hamstring.

One key to the Knicks success this season is not Carmelo Anthony, but a much younger forward, 4th-overall pick Kristaps Porzingis who looked very impressive in the preseason. The 7-foot-3 Latvian, who has range well beyond the 3-point line, is expected to start at forward after overcoming a mild quad strain.

If the Porzingis can show maturity beyond his years, it is possible the Knicks can contend for a playoff berth in the weak Eastern Conference. The Knicks were 0-4 last year against the Bucks, and I expect that trend to continue in a close game tonight. Tip-off is schedule for 8pm EST.

Prediction: Knicks 90 Bucks 96

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