Knicks "brutal" 21-game stretch almost done. What did we learn?
The New York Knicks are 22-16. After that disappointing 3-8 start, the team boasts an incredible 19-8 record since then (playing almost .700 ball). NY is, shockingly, 12-9 on the road this year (5-3 on their two west coast trips), with a respectable 10-7 against Western Conf. opponents.
Knicks are currently 4-2 in 2011 (and this is w/out Gallo and a struggling Stoudemire).
Since 'Dream Week' kicked off in mid-Dec, when the "toughest" part of the schedule began, the Knicks are now 8-8 over this definitive stretch of games. Most felt that this run of 21 games would ultlimately prove what sort of team we were. Coming off that slow start, and exploding back on to the scene, the true tests awaited us. A brutal run that would expose, display, exhibit, depict, (whatever)... the character this team ultimately possessed.
Our playoff hopes (and subsequent seeding) would possibly be decided on what happened from mid-Dec to mid-Jan.
.500 ball was what most deemed "par" for the course of this 21-game run. Navigating these waters would be difficult, but as long as we held our ground, kept our heads above water, and maintained that little cushion we built up from mid-Nov to mid-Dec, then this team would mature, grow and transform into a real, bona fide, legitimate EXCITING and COMPETITIVE unit. A team forged in the furnace of adversity, a squad that would give us hope come Spring.
I look at last night, on an evening the Knicks were playing their 3rd game in 4 days... on a night when the Clippers beat the Heat... On a night the Knicks were wrapping up a 4-game pacific road trip... on a night they were playing sans Gallo (again)... on a night when Stoudemire was in foul trouble.... On a night Chandler struggled (14 points on 14 shots)... On a night Utah shot like 90 percet.... The Knicks still managed to stay in the game, lsoe by 6, and have 4 players score 20+ points.
We lost the battle, but found that something positive emerged to help the cause in the greater war: Shawne Williams & Bill Walker.
Williams-Walker almost combined to score 50 points. Walker is starting to get in a rhythm and gain confidence. Williams continues the hot 3-point stroke (7-8). The emergence of these tw players would be HUGE.
Knicks are built around Felton and Amar'e. Chandler and/or Gallo provide the complimentary punch, wher we need 1 to be the 3rd option and if both are productive then NYK are tough to beat. If we can start getting the bench to produce, score points and give the starters rest.... Look out.
The bench is: Douglas, Turiaf, Williams, Walker & Mozgov.
We have to remember the Knicks are one of the youngest teams in the NBA:
Randolph is 21. Gallo and Fields are both 22. Walker is 23. Chandler is 23. Mozgov and Rautins are both 24. Williams will turn 25 soon. Douglas will turn 25 soon. Felton turns 27 soon. STAT is 28. Turiaf just turned 28.
Amar'e & Turiaf are the vets, and they're both 28! TWENTY-EIGHT. Heck, Roger Mason is the wise old sage (he's 30).
Obviously, we are a VERY young team. One of the youngest in the NBA. The good news is we can reasonably expect this team to actually improve as the season gets older... We haven't peaked yet!
This is why the next 5 games are H-U-G-E, IMHO. We have two winnable games ahead of us this week at home (SAC, PHO). Will we take care of biz and win them both?
Then, the brutal 21-game stretch comes to completion with a 3-game road trip down to the SW (@HOU, @SA, @OKC). Just like how it all began, it ends with a significant 3-game stretch... another 'dream week' so to speak. I want to see if we've grown any over the course of this 21-game run.
Sure, we started it off at home and now we're on the road. Will we go 3-0 or 2-1 and really send a loud message? Will we hold the fort and find a way to go 1-2 (with at least 1 close loss)? Will we FAIL and fall to 0-3?
8-8 now on this 21-game stretch. Win both at home and now we're 10-8. Go 2-1 on the road trip and now we finish 11-10. I would have signed up for that back in early Dec.