Knicks begin Atlantic Division defense against Bucks

( - The New York Knicks are one of the NBA's elite teams and look to keep it that way when they open the 2013-14 season versus the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden.

Led by superstar and reigning scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks hope to finish at the top of the East and will jockey for position with Miami, Chicago, Indiana and Brooklyn. Last season, the Knicks won the Atlantic Division title for the first time since 1994.

In the offseason, the Knicks didn't need to do much to improve. The roster was solid, but that didn't stop New York from bringing in two polarizing forwards.

Andrea Bargnani, the former first overall pick, was acquired from the Toronto Raptors. The price was steep, not so much in Marcus Camby, Steve Novak or Quentin Richardson, but in a first-round pick.

"He's one of those gifted players I think I can reach," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said of Bargnani. "He's good enough to help us."

Metta World Peace was amnestied by the Los Angeles Lakers and returned home to the Big Apple, joining forces with Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Amare Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton. Shumpert is a great defender and should be even better this season after he has more time removed from his ACL surgery.

The Knicks are aiming to reach the playoffs for a fourth straight season and this time hope to make a deep run toward an NBA title.

Milwaukee was able to reach the postseason in 2012-13 despite a less-than- stellar 38-44 record. But, the Bucks were able to take advantage in the bottom tier of the Eastern Conference.

The Bucks were swept in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual champion Miami Heat. They're hoping some new faces will improve their status this season under new head coach Larry Drew, who went 128-102 in three years with the Atlanta Hawks.

Milwaukee's backcourt of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings was explosive and scored a ton. They are now in Dallas and Detroit, respectively. Replacing them will be O.J. Mayo, another score-first shooting guard, and the point-guard tandem of Luke Ridnour and Brandon Knight, who was acquired from the Pistons for Jennings.

The final new member of the starting five is Caron Butler, a Wisconsin native, who became very emotional at the press conference announcing his acquisition.

"This is something that I always dreamed about, thought about. I never thought it would happen. So it's special," Butler said.

The Bucks even revamped their second unit, signing Gary Neal from the San Antonio Spurs, Carlos Delfino from the Houston Rockets and Zaza Pachulia from Drew's Hawks.

The new additions, however, won't keep the Bucks from facing either Miami, Chicago, Indiana and New York in the first round of the playoffs if they make it there again.

New York won all three games against Milwaukee last season and is unbeaten in the previous three matchups with the Bucks at MSG.