This could be the toughest week of the Knicks’ season and is easily the most dangerous. And last week was no picnic. Let’s start there: First, on the heels of Amar’e Stoudemire being diagnosed with a bulging disc in his back, Jeremy Lin had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. That leaves the Knicks without their wunderkind for six weeks which just so happens to be the amount of time left in the season if the Knicks don’t manage to climb their way out of the realm of Hades (also known as the seventh and eighth spots in the Eastern Conference). Splitting the weekend with a loss to the Hawks and a win over the Cavs would have been perfectly fine - you can’t win them all - but combined with the injury news it felt like a lot changed.
So that’s not good. Other things that aren’t good: the condition of Baron Davis’ hamstring, the existence of Mike Bibby, the organization’s failure to piece Toney Douglas back together earlier in the season, Jared Jeffries’ absence, Frank Isola’s job prospects (depending on your perspective) and/or the ongoing existence of the New York Daily News and the Knicks’ upcoming schedule.
It’s Revenge Week for the New York Knicks or maybe more accurately, for their opponents. Last month they handled Indiana in back-to-back games. Tonight they go to Indiana, undermanned, to play a team that surely wants a piece of them. Thursday they go to Orlando to play a team they absolutely annihilated last week. Orlando probably wants that one back and probably won’t stay out until three a.m. before this one. This Knicks team is not known for its sportsmanship. They like to keep chucking threes regardless of the relationship between time and score, even their dorky white guy is a showboat (if you click one link in here, click this one) and they love a good double alley-oop up twenty with two minutes left. Don’t think Orlando and Indy haven’t noticed. Or everyone else either.
The Knicks then get a two-games-in-three-nights-home-and-home with Chicago. Chicago doesn’t need revenge because they beat the Knicks last time. If Rose doesn’t play the Knicks have a chance, probably at a split. If he does, they could easily drop both.
We could do this all day but there’s just one more game that needs to be mentioned: Wednesday, April 11th, when the Knicks play the Bucks in Milwaukee. The Bucks are off the night before so they’ll be relaxing at home while the Knicks play a nationally televised game with Chicago, in Chicago starting at 9:30 eastern time. Tip-off in Milwaukee is less than 24 hours later. Milwaukee is currently two games behind the Knicks for the eighth seed and the last ticket to the playoffs. While the Knicks play four straight playoff teams over the next seven days they play one. That game may be against Oklahoma City, class of the West, but the other three - Cleveland, Charlotte and Portland - are all home game cupcakes.
Realistically, if the Knicks manage to split their next four they’d have achieved a pretty good result. But that’s not good enough given the circumstances. Nor is it guaranteed. If Milwaukee goes 3-1 and the Knicks 2-2, a Knick loss in Milwaukee- entirely possible on the road, coming off a tough week and a big game the night before - would put them out of the playoffs. Tied with Milwaukee in the standings and without the tiebreaker having then lost the season series 2-1, the Knicks would be in ninth place.
Grit your teeth folks, this ride is about to get scary.