Awhile back I posited that the Knicks were unlikely the team that started 3-8, nor were they truly the team that went 13-1 after that initial horrid run. I surmised that at 16-9 and “hell week” or “dream week”/ “hell” or “dream month” at the doorstep, fans would get a better idea of the true character of team by their accomplishments by around the start of February.
Well, let’s have a look:
Since December 12, the commencement of hell/dream time, the Knicks went 10-15. Going in 7 games over .500 I think most fans would take the 10-15 record corresponding to the toughest stretch of games the team would face all year. Here is a breakdown:
What is odd about the last month and a half is that going into it, a lot of people thought that based on the preceding impressive stretch of games that the Knicks would take care of business against the bad and mediocre teams and maybe claw out a victory against an elite team or two and go 9-16 to reenter schedule normalcy hovering around .500.
Well, the Knicks got to the destination we thought they’d reach but on a highly circuitous path that did not, as expected, eliminate all doubt as to the true character of the team. Yes, they beat some good teams like Denver, Oklahoma City, and Portland and even a few great ones (Miami, Chicago, San Antonio) but they also lost to marginal teams like Phoenix and Houston along with some of the worst teams in the league like Cleveland (!) and Sacramento.
So who knows who these Knicks are? We know they’re still in control of the 6th seed but they’re also struggling and perilously close to the 9th seed. We also know that they’re streaky and for the sake of the fans and the #ExtendWalsh Initiative, hopefully they go on another hot streak (Amar’e was quite emotional after the Sixers loss, which hearkened back to his previous emotional statements during the 3-8 start after which the Knicks turned their season around).
But clearly my prediction that clarity would ensue by the start of February did not come to fruition, and so you can throw my completely unscientific W-L projections compiled by strength of opponent out the window. The Knick’s may yet finish around .500 (or well above it) and earn a playoff spot (or they may not), but clearly, it’s going to be a long and winding road.