Knicks Hit West Coast with Playoff Hopes on the Line


Dec 28, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Knicks players huddle before the start of their game against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 115-100. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

It’s certainly make-or-break time for the New York Knicks as they sit on the outside looking in on the Eastern conference playoffs.

The Knicks are currently 2.5 games out of a playoff spot and in Los Angeles to begin a five-game west coast road trip that ends one of two ways. It could be with a nail in the Knicks’ proverbial coffin or with this team somehow even closer to the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference. The former is what we’ve been waiting on for a while now but haven’t quite seen. And of course the latter would require some help from the Atlanta Hawks, who have become participants in the New York’s quest for the postseason.

While there are still games to be played upon the Knicks’ return to New York, the sense is that answers will come back East with them. A team fit for playoff basketball makes this road trip a profitable one and a team that isn’t ready will play the type of mediocre basketball we’ve watched since November. If the Knicks are serious about making the playoffs and going from there, this trip needs to be a huge success and feature some building off what’s happened the past two weeks.

It’s difficult for any team to switch coasts and propel themselves to a higher level than they’ve been at for most of the season. The eight-game win streak certainly helped and it coincided with the news that Phil Jackson would take over as president, appearing to give the team a bit of a jolt they lacked previously.

With that said, it still feels like it could be too little-too late for the Knicks. They need to realistically win at least four out of the five games to come back to New York with a pulse in the playoff race because the schedule doesn’t lighten up so much upon their return. On the current road trip, following the Lakers game New York is traveling to Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State and Utah in that order. Not the most murderous of routes to navigate.

None of their opponents with the exception the Warriors are particularly impressive but then again, neither are the Knicks. It’s a stretch to assume that the Knickerbockers will beat any team in this league and especially on the road when considering how poorly they’ve played at times.

Not to mention the help New York needs from Atlanta in the process. The Hawks have stumbled of late but it’s hard to depend on another team to lose instead of being able to focus on just winning games. Their next five are at Minnesota, vs. Portland, at Washington and back home for the Sixers and Bulls.

Now, it’s desperation time and New York is behind the eight-ball. Being that our Knicks took their sweet time deciding to play basketball this season, none of us feel sorry for them nor should we. If anything, it’s the fans that have been conned the most out of anyone by this season. Controlling their own destiny is something that must be earned and the Knicks didn’t put themselves in that position.

Of course, Carmelo Anthony has been conned pretty badly by this season also. Melo continues to play remarkably and compete every night as he’s done all season long. Now he needs to hope his team can continue to match his level as they did for the eight games before the loss to Cleveland on Sunday.

Even if they do rise to the challenge, it’ll be a tall order for New York to squeak in the playoff field. Either way the waiting and wondering is about to be over; we’ll find out if the Knicks can resurrect something from this season during and after this west coast swing.