The New York Knicks finished their eight-game home stand Saturday night with a loss to the Miami Heat. Though the Knicks are still very much in playoff contention, they failed to make much ground with a relatively easy stretch on their home floor. Over that eight-game home stand, the Knicks finished just 4-4, despite only playing two teams with an above .500 record.
Now the Knicks face probably their greatest challenge of the season. Despite an abbreviated month, shortened by the week-long All-Star break, February could be the defining month of the Knicks’ season.
New York has played better lately, particularly in reverting to last season’s tactics: Carmelo Anthony at power forward and several guards on the floor. However, the Knicks’ four-game win streak that was snapped by the Heat didn’t come over world-beaters; those wins came over the Charlotte Bobcats, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
February presents a much tougher schedule and the Knicks will be on the road more often than at home. Of the 12 games in the month, the Knicks play on the road for seven. In addition, the level of competition is much higher than January’s easier schedule. The Knicks will also play seven teams with an above .500 record, and their February opponents have a combined winning percentage of .515. Eight of the Knicks’ 12 opponents are Western Conference teams, too, whom the Knicks have not faired well against, managing just a 4-11 record this season against teams in the West.
February is also important as it presents the trade deadline. With the deadline just two weeks away, expect the Knicks to be active in trying to make some deals. Though nothing seems certain, the Knicks have entertained the idea of making trades throughout the year, particularly to bolsters their backcourt. Raymond Felton has played better of late, but the Knicks could certainly use an upgrade at point guard. Additionally, the Knicks have tried shopping Iman Shumpert, too, so he may be available.
Through a combination of a tougher schedule and the nearing trade deadline, February could be the month that makes or breaks this Knicks team.
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