Alec Burks breakout, Ntilikina trade

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The Knicks open their season on Wednesday night against the Pacers as the Tom Thibodeau era begins. Here are three bold predictions and five games to watch as the 2020-21 NBA season tips off.

Three bold predictions

1. Free-agent signee Alec Burks quietly inherits the starting small forward job and doesn’t give it up.

2. Frank Ntilikina is traded at the March deadline for a 2023 second-round pick and the rights to a European who will never play in NBA.

3. Kentucky coach John Calipari speaks more about the Knicks this season than team president Leon Rose.

Five games to watch

Dec. 31 at Toronto: Knicks close out miserable 2020 playing their first-ever game in Tampa Bay, which is hosting the Canadian club because of the pandemic. The Knicks will see what they missed on in PG Fred VanVleet, whom they tried to sign.

Alec Burks
Alec Burks
Getty Images

Jan. 13 vs. Nets: Knicks will face Kevin Durant in black Brooklyn duds for the first time after the superstar passed on James Dolan’s team. KD has since degraded the franchise as “not cool.’’

Jan. 18 vs. Orlando: The Knicks passed on local PG Cole Anthony, who visits the Garden as a pro for the first time and Tom Thibodeau faces his longtime buddy Steve Clifford.

Feb. 12 at Washington: Russell Westbrook will be in a Wizards’ uniform after the Knicks half-heartedly chased him. They also get up close to see Israeli forward Deni Avdija, whom they could have selected over Toppin.

Feb. 21 vs. Minnesota: This will be Thibodeau’s Super Bowl as he faces the franchise that unceremoniously dumped him in January 2019 and sullied his reputation. Nice to see ya again, Karl-Anthony Towns.

The Post forecast

30-42: With another coach, I’d tab 22 wins, but Thibodeau is the real deal.

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