Well, the Knicks went a predictable 2-3 in the last 5 game stretch I laid out in my previous blog post, choking vs. the Heat, getting a big win vs. the Hawks, but dropping the big contests vs. the Nets and Blazers before beating the Bucks. When it was all said and done, the Knicks had given up 5 games on the schedule and had lost a bit of ground, falling 2.5 out of the playoffs.
Then a funny thing just happened, the Knicks went into Detroit and got a road win in OT. In all fairness, this is one of the few, if not ONLY, games I remember the Knicks coming from behind to steal this season. Teams have no problem sticking the dagger in the Knicks, but the Knicks finally returned the favor in a trend I hope will continue if the Knicks are going to make the playoffs. This team is due for a couple more fortunate wins.
So what now? The Knicks are just 1.5 games out of the 8th seed as I type, with New Jersey playing the sad Warriors franchise tonight to see if the Knicks are chasing a loggam 1.5 back or the Nets 2 back . But no matter. The Knicks got two left at home vs. New Jersey, that is the team the Knicks want to chase for the 8th seed. Can the Knicks put some more pressure on the 9 (ok, 4) teams they are fighting for to get the playoff birth they so desperately want? Let's check out the upcoming schedule.
The Knicks will continue the "Big East men's tourney seems like it will go on for a fortnight" roadtrip, at Minnesota on Friday (Yea?) and finishing it up Sunday at Cleveland (Boo!). The Knicks really almost have to go 1-1 here to keep the recent momentum going, and since the Knicks are not winning in Cleveland barring a total collapse by Cleveland, this better be the Knicks winning three in a row on the road Friday. Wait, Knicks win 3 straight road games? I really don't like the sound of these next two games.
Then the Knicks go home to host the Nets (big big game) and the Kings (would be a really devistating loss). Assuming the Knicks are a slight favorite vs. the slumping T-Wolves, that is 3 games the Knicks will be favored during in the next 4, 3-1 is very do-able.
A pair of wins at home with a 1-1 end to the road trip would put the Knicks at 30-38. When you objectivly look at the Knicks roster, that's pretty good.
But what value would a 3-1 stretch have in the chase for the playoffs? Not too much. The Knicks would likely still be 1 or 1.5 back after this stretch. And moving forward from next Friday, it's at Orlando at the end of a home-road back to back, Orlando again, the Clips, the Hornets, then a 3 game road stretch vs. Charlotte as the back end of a home-road back to back, and Utah and Denver back to back.
That's 7 games in that last paragraph that the Knicks will be favored only once during. Vegas will have the Knicks going 1-6 after the Kings game and 4-7 overall during the last 11 games of March. Even if the Knicks manage to steal 2 games they should lose during the rest of this month, don't drop any of the 4 they should win, they will end the month a very impressive 6-5 for the last of the month, but a not so strong 33-42 overall.
Where does that get you? Having to win out (7-0) over a difficult April schedule to get to Coach D'Antoni's goal of 40 wins? Having to have a winning record in April to get to 37, which may get you in the playoffs, but may not? John Hollinger has the 8th seed winning 39 games in his latest playoff projections. 39 will probably get the Knicks in IMO. But the Knicks are probably going to win only 34 games according to Hollinger. I agree that 34-48 is the most likely end record for New York.
So what did this win over Detroit mean for the Knicks? It was a win that the Knicks were not expected to get. Now the Knicks have to find 5 more wins just like tonight out of the 11 harder games left on the schedule, all while taking care of business durng the 7 easier games left on the schedule to get the 12 wins needed to get the 8th seed. Any bad loss the Knicks take will mean the Knicks will have to win more games then they lose as an underdog for the rest of the season. They are called underdogs for a reason, because they are likely to lose. Few teams have a winning record over an enlongated stretch of games in which they are the dog.
So my final verdit? It's looking real grim for New York. I'll keep cheering and analyzing the orange and blue. But I'd be lying if I said I won't be paying close attention to any NCAA game later this month with a projected lottery pick in it. The win vs. Detroit was huge tonight. But I still put the Knicks playoff chances at under 10%. At least the Knicks will have Eddy Curry back next season...