I’m here to warn you: the Knicks will most likely have a losing record after five games. But don’t give up on ‘em. New Yorkers expect, nay, demand, a lot from their teams and woe be the team that doth disappoint. As fans, we often don’t see the big picture and instead focus on the here-and-now. Denizens of the Big Apple frequently suffer from the old what-have-you-done-for-me-lately syndrome. After the Knicks sucking for so, so, so, so, so long, there is huge guarded optimism about this season’s team. But don’t lose hope and turn bitter again when we have one of the worst records in the league just five games into the season.
What am I basing this all on? Because of how we got whupped by the Minnesota Timberwolves in preseason? Nah, we all know there’s not a lot to be learned from preseason results. The key factor, which, you should remember and keep in mind when things begin bleakly, is…
Simple as that. Look at the first five games. We start in Toronto and should beat them. But then our four next foes are all expected to easily play over .500 ball: the Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic and the Chicago Bulls. Yes, the Bulls might be vulnerable with Carlos Boozer out, but they were a pretty good team without him and the game will be on their home court. I’m not saying we can’t beat one of those guys, but chances are that at best we’ll be 2-3, if not an outright ugly and scary 1-4. In fact, looking at the opening schedules for the bottom half teams, except for two others, everyone as more potentially winnable games than us. So it’s entirely possible we’ll be tied for the worst record with the Detroit Pistons and the LA Clippers at 1-4.
Of course on any day even the worst team in the league can beat the best in a single game, so clearly the chances of everything breaking exactly as stated is unlikely. But I just wanna warn you now. If we’re at the bottom at 1-4, don’t worry. If we’re at 2-3, you should actually be pretty happy. And if we have a frickin’ winning record after five games? Start jumping for joy because we will be goooood this season.
But even assuming we start out 1-4, our next 5 games give us a great shot at reaching .500: Washington, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Golden State and Minnesota. Except Milwaukee, all them teams are predicted to end up with losing records this year. And even Milwaukee is only expected to be solid, not a top four team like the Celts and Magic. So we have five very winnable games in a row, but chances are we don’t get ‘em all, so we could be 5-5. Not bad.
After the next seven games though, then we’ll really know where we’ll stand. We’ve got: Houston, Denver, Sacramento, Golden State, LA Clippers and then a home-and-away double-header against Charlotte. First, unrelated to anything, kinda odd how we’ll play all our games against the Golden State Warriors in the first 25 days of the season. Second, the key here is the two games against Charlotte. They’re likely one of the teams we’ll be fighting for the two last playoff spots. If we beat the teams we’re “supposed” to beat, we could be 10-7 at this point and solidly on the side of winning. Yes, the rest of the season goes up and down, and chances are we’ll go below .500 again at some point.
That second game is November 24th, so over Thanksgiving you should have a good sense of where we are. If we’re 10-7, 9-8 or even 8-9, we’re in okay shape. Any worse, then go ahead, press the big red emergency Panic And Despair button. On the other hand, if we are at 10-7 and have a top four or five record, don’t start getting delusional and thinking we can remain that high. Truth is, our first 25 games we have a relatively easy schedule, so we could even be one of the league leaders at 15-8 or 14-9. But the rest of the season is much, much harder. Just like you shouldn’t jump off the ledge if we start out 1-4, don’t be making plane reservations if we’re 15-8 to go watch us play the Lakers in the finals. Everyone’s schedule all evens out in the end.