My, how times have changed.
Just fifteen days ago, every sports show airing in New York was ripping the Knicks (losers of four in a row at that time) and saying that there was no chance of them getting past the second round of the playoffs.
Two weeks later, those same Knicks—winners in their last eight contests—have the Big Apple buzzing with talk of the Eastern Conference Finals and “if Wade or Bosh go down…” Even famous basketball writers are jumping on the bandwagon. In his latest column for ESPNNewYork.com, Stephen A. Smith wrote, “…the Knicks can now make the argument they’ve got a legitimate chance of their own to upend the defending world champions.”
With that being said, the boys in blue and orange are improving, and getting quality minutes from almost everyone who suits up. J.R. Smith has averaged just under thirty points per-game in his last four, Raymond Felton has shot 17-27 in that same span, and sharpshooter Steve “discount double-check” Novak has started heating back up. As a team, the Knicks have either shot above, or percentage points below, 50% from the field during their current winning streak. Even though their opponents have been less than stellar in those eight games, 50% shooting for a team is very impressive.
New York will need their newly-found confidence in order to get past their brutal April schedule which includes seven dates with playoff teams, including the Heat, Pacers, Bulls, and Thunder; against whom the Knicks are a combined 3-7 this season. The match up with the Pacers will likely determine the winner of the highly-coveted second seed in the East this season. Indiana has a tough rest of the year in their own right, with contests still remaining against OKC, the Clippers, Nets, and Celtics. Odds are, the two teams will square off at MSG (a big advantage for the Knicks because they are seven games better at The Garden than on the road) with the number two seed on the line.
If you look at the two teams’ April schedules, the ‘Bockers would probably have to go 7-3 (including a victory over the Pacers) in order to get potential home-court advantage in the second round, which is conceivable being that Miami, Oklahoma City, and Chicago are all tough games, and the Hawks (2x), Cavs, Bucks, Wizards, and Bobcats will be winnable. A victory over the Pacers would also be factored into those seven ‘W’s as well.
As long as New York keeps their momentum going and can avoid injuries down the stretch, they should be able to make the third round of the playoffs and give the Heat a run for their money.
Beating them? That’s a different story.