Feb 21 2012
The Knicks have been and up an down team all season. Sometimes they look like a title contender and sometimes they look like they could be in the running for a top 5 pick, but then you remember that James Dolan threw all their picks into the Melo deal. One day they’ll beat Dallas but then they’ll turn around and give up fifteen 3′s to the Nets. At 16-17, this season has been turbulent for Knick fans to say the least. However for New York, throughout this lockout-shortened season one thing has remained a constant:
The Knicks inability to beat bad teams.
Despite having played the easiest schedule in the NBA to date, the Knicks sit at 16-17. If the season were to end today, the Knicks would have the second lowest average point differential, 1.2, of any playoff team despite their patty cake schedule. When facing teams that currently have losing records, the Knicks are just 12-9. Obviously the fact that they are 4-8 against good teams is not good but it is more disturbing that they cannot beat bad teams. Sure, they have a winning record but 13-9 is nothing to write home about. Losing to Phoenix, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New Jersey, Charlotte and Toronto at Madison Square Garden is nothing to write home about.
It astonishes me how up and down this team is. They can get up to play the good teams and they struggle to garner enough energy to bury the bad teams. “Oh well it is different with Jeremy Lin”. No it’s not. The Knicks have played nine games with Lin as the starting point guard. They are 7-2. The two losses came against New Jersey and New Orleans and both losses occurred at Madison Square Garden. Those two teams have a combined record of 17-48. Totally unacceptable for the Knicks to be losing to teams like that at home.
The Knicks cannot transition to being an elite team until they learn to bring energy into every game, night in and night out. By comparison, here are how some of the elite NBA teams stack up to the Knicks:
Heat: 14 wins 3 losses
Bulls: 19 wins 3 losses
Oklahoma City: 14 wins 2 losses
LA Clippers: 8 wins 3 losses
Knicks: 13 wins 9 losses
The Knicks will never enter even the upper echelon of the NBA if they cannot better their play against bad teams. The Knicks currently sit at 16-17, good enough for the 7th seed in the East. Right now, they would be playing the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Ideally, the Knicks would like to move up to any of the 3-6 seeds to avoid a first round matchup with Miami or Chicago. The Knicks have 13 more games against teams with sub .500 records. In order to close the 5 game gap between them and the 3rd seed (Orland0), the Knicks need to win at least 10 of these last 13 games, if not win all 13. Obviously they will have their hands full playing the Pacers and Bulls three more times a piece and Miami twice. They cannot afford to be dropping games to lottery teams, they need every win they can get.
Overall, if the Knicks are going to propel themselves to the 3rd seed in the east they must begin to consistently beat bad opponents. Losing games at home to the Raptors, Bobcats, Bucks, Hornets, Nets and Suns is utterly unacceptable. Great teams continually abuse the bad teams and the Knicks seem to get abused by bad teams far too often. Obviously, at 16-17, the Knicks are not an elite team at the moment. Given their coach, talent and new found point man, the Knicks do have the potential to become one of the NBA elite by season’s end. In order to ascend up the Eastern Conference standings, the Knicks must find a way to bring consistent energy on a night in night out basis. They need to play against Charlotte with the same energy they bring against Miami. Great teams capitalize on lesser opponents and the Knicks struggle. They are not great now and will never be a great team if they cannot quickly fix their consistently. I suggest the Knicks hurry up and get their act together. There are only 33 games remaining.[twitter-follow screen_name='tarmosino' show_screen_name='no']