Will the Knicks Win 50 Games?

Knicks celebrating

Instead of recapping last night’s blowout win over Toronto, I thought I’d take a look at the 14 remaining games on New York’s schedule. The Knicks currently sit at 42-26, and while catching Miami is out of the question, winning 50 games this season is not. However, the road to 50 is a difficult one. Here is the Knicks remaining schedule:

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Only four remaining games will be played against sub .500 teams, Charlotte twice, Cleveland, and Washington. And two of those four games are on the road. Assuming the Knicks win all four of those games, they’d only have to win four of the other ten to get to 50 wins. Although the Knicks have been good against bad teams this year, it’s far from a sure thing that they’ll win all four. For the sake of discussion here, let’s say the Knicks win three out of the four.

This means the Knicks would have to find five wins against Boston (twice), Memphis, Miami, Atlanta (twice), Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Indiana. That’s rough. The road to 50 is slightly easier given that Memphis will likely be without Marc Gasol, who is out indefinitely with an abdominal tear. So lets give the Knicks a win at home against Memphis. To get the other four wins, they will likely need to split the two games with Boston, once in Boston and once at Madison Square Garden. Though the Celtics aren’t the team they used to be, they’ve been quite good since Rajon Rondo went down with injury. New York and Boston have split two prior match-ups this season.

It’s hard to see the Knicks beating either Miami or Oklahoma City, much less both of them. Assuming the Knicks have gone 3-1 versus the bad teams, split with Boston, beaten the Gasol-less Grizzlies and lose to both Miami and OKC, they’d have to go 3-2 versus Atlanta (twice), Milwaukee, Chicago and the Pacers. This is doable, but difficult. I think the Knicks beat the Bucks at home, although Milwaukee could get hot shooting and Brandon Jennings usually plays well at MSG. This means the Knicks would have to go just 2-3 against Chicago, Indiana, and Atlanta (twice).

Chicago and Indiana both match up well with the Knicks and have wins against New York this season. Like the Miami and OKC games, it’s hard to see the Knicks winning both of those games. However, there is more of a possibility the Knicks split those games. These are the two key games to this whole thing, in my opinion. Very easily the Knicks could lose both these games, but they do have the potential to beat both these teams. Chicago has killed them twice, due to Tom Thibodeau’s genius defensive schemes taking the Knick offense out of the game. However, if Anthony can get hot like he did last year against Chicago on Easter, the Knicks can win that game. Indiana has beaten the Knicks twice in three games, winning the last two games handily. But if the Knicks can conjure up a great defensive performance, they should be able to beat the Pacers. To win both these games, they’d have to be crisp on offense and really good defensively. We haven’t seen consistent well-rounded play since the beginning of the season, but the Knicks definitely are capable of putting two good performances together. It’s more realistic the Knicks lose both these games, but let’s go ahead and say they get the split.

That leaves the two games against the Hawks, one in Atlanta and one at the Garden. The Knicks would have to split these games to get to 50, which is definitely doable. Though not a dominant club, the Hawks boast a top 10 defense and some dangerous offensive weapons. New York’s biggest weakness defensively is their inability to keep quick point guards out of the paint in pick and roll situations. This was made more apparent in the first Knicks-Hawks game when Jeff Teague scored 27 points on 9/15 shooting.

If I had to bet on it, I think the Knicks  fall just short of 50 wins. It’s not impossible that they get there, nor would be surprise me if they did, but they don’t have a lot of margin for error. To their credit, New York has been playing well the last week or so against weaker competition and Carmelo Anthony has looked good  coming off knee injury. However, this schedule is brutal and the Knicks will have to play really well to get to those 8 wins. I’m not saying they can’t do it, but I think it’s more realistic to see them finish with 48 or 49 wins.

Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino