After a much needed blowout of the Phoenix Suns at home, the New York Knicks (23-26) sit 2.5 games outside the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. To the Knicks’ credit, they have played better than most have expected out of them this season, and as crazy as this may seem, if the Knicks were in the Western Conference, they would currently hold the 8th seed by a half-game.
But there’s something that’s just holding them back: Inconsistency
Throughout the course of the season, whenever the Knicks seem to be making a move to climb the standings, they fall into a funk. The Knicks’ biggest winning streak this season is four straight, which they have done twice. But what proceeded after both of those streaks? Four straight L’s. That’s right, the two times this season where the Knicks were able to string four wins in a row, they immediately countered the momentum with just as many losses.
In fact, New York has dropped four straight games four times this season. For those of you doing the math at home, that’s slightly over 61% of all their losses coming from these losing streaks. When the Knicks lose two games in a row, they have lost in the following game 71% of the time.
As we reach the All-Star game, the Knicks have to find a way to play at a more consistent level if they want to make the playoffs. It is easier said than done, but crucial as there are many games where the Knicks seem to be clicking on all cylinders, and then the next game they come out and get blown out by 20.
That can’t happen.
A big issue is if they can complete when guys like Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis and Arron Afflalo are off the floor. Top bench players Derrick Williams, Lance Thomas, and Langston Galloway have provided solid production this season, but at times, it gets real difficult for the Knicks to keep up with the second unit out there.
Maybe a trade before the deadline can shake things up for the Knicks and bring another player who can score the basketball. With Phil Jackson, you really never know.
Whatever happens, trade or no trade, mental toughness is going to show if the Knicks can survive to see the postseason. That includes being able to build on momentum and stopping losing streaks before they add up. Veteran leadership will be instrumental in this starting with team leader Carmelo Anthony.
Where the Knicks end up at the conclusion of the season will ultimately depend on whether they can handle adversity and play at a high level they have showed many times this season. They do have the talent to squeeze in, they just need to put it all together.