The question that has been asked throughout the last couple of weeks (well, the last couple of months) or so will have more value than ever before the next three weeks: Will the New York Knicks win the 8th seed grapple from the Atlanta Hawks?
Things were really starting to flourish; the Knicks had won a miraculous 8 games in a row, their longest winning streak of the season at that point, and it seemed like they were en route to another win over the dismal Cavaliers sans Kyrie Irving.
But there’s been absolutely no such thing as the term “easy win” for the Knicks this season, especially in the fourth quarter. Per Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal, the loss to the Cavs marked the eighth time the Knicks have gave up a ten point lead, later losing the game. Jarrett Jack, (yes, the same Jarrett Jack that was with the Warriors last year) dropped 31 points, one of his shots being a big shot to increase the Cavs’ lead to 4 with under 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter. The shot came over none other than Raymond Felton. Jack also dished 10 assists, eviscerating a Knicks defense that has played like a complete pile of horse poop throughout the whole season (and that’s being nice).
That same night, the Hawks lost to the division leader Raptors. The next night, they lost to the Western Conference dark horse Suns. The Hawks are currently riding a three game losing streak and the Knicks are 2.5 games within the final playoff spot. Although it looks like the Hawks are slowly collapsing (or at least we hope so), Sunday night’s loss to the Cavs may have ruined the momentum and fun, well, that’s been the case this whole season.
To quote Seth Rosenthal of Posting and Toasting following the loss to the Cavs:
This is not a playoff team in appearance…they lost some hope of becoming a playoff team.
Last night’s 31 point blowout to the Los Angeles Lakers (yes, the tanking Lakers) is yet another piece of major empirical evidence of why throwing away this season is probably the best idea possible. 51 points allowed in one quarter is just absolutely ludicrous. It’s as if Kent Bazemore morphed into Michael Cooper and Nick Young, along with Xavier Henry, turned into James Worthy.
Even if the Knicks somehow make the playoffs, a la last year’s Lakers by winning the last game of the season, it’s not worth seeing them get trounced (most likely) in the first round by (presumably) the Pacers. 2010-11 and 2011-12 will be resurrecting once again. I mean, unless you’re incredibly stoked to see another first round exit, then I understand what you’re saying, wholeheartedly. Knick fans should realize this by now: It’s just so hard to root for a team that has taken several steps backwards after having one of their best seasons in years the year before. They went from a first-rate basketball team standing atop the Atlantic Division last year, to second-rate smack dab in the middle of a historically bad Atlantic Division this year.
ESPN’s SCHOENE pre-season projection projected the Knicks to win 37 games. Remember when Knick fans essentially laughed at that projection? Somewhere, Kevin Pelton is laughing like Dr. Evil and his henchmen several months later. Seriously, I’m not sure why people’s preseason outlook consisted of this year’s team eclipsing last year’s team or win at least 50 games and Andrea Bargnani panning out the slightest bit.
However, if you’re an optimist (I have no idea how you can be one at this point), the Knicks have won 8 of their last 10 games. People that are still stuck in the 90s would say that the Knicks were the lowly 8th seed in the 1998-99 locked out season and eventually lost in the Finals to the Spurs…yadda, yadda, yadda. It’s that time again where fans have to reminisce about the solid gold of the 90s and the 1972-73 championship team (I see you, Phil Jackson). It’s not a bad thing to reminisce, but at some point, you’re going to have to move forward.
Giving up is not the ideal thing to do, nor is it ever the right thing to do. But at this point… I really don’t know. The team’s mantra this year is, to paraphrase former deceased Raiders owner, Al Davis:
Commitment to 2015.
Can we just simulate this season, please?