It’s been a while since anyone wrote that the New York Knicks are the hottest team in the NBA, but the Knicks are currently surfing the crest of a seven-game winning streak. The Knicks are 7-0 against the spread during their winning streak, and are 10-0 ATS in their last 10 games.
The Knicks (32-27) are just a half-game away from overtaking the Atlanta Hawks for the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
During the current surge, the longest in seven seasons, the Knicks won two overtime games against the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. The Knicks also picked off the Toronto Raptors, LA Lakers, Dallas Mavs, Charlotte Hornets, and beat the Pelicans twice.
“The important thing for us is not to get lost,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau. “You start looking into the playoffs and win streaks, you lose focus on getting ready for the next game. That’s where our focus has to be.”
The Knicks are in the middle of their best stretch of the season and achieved their seven-game winning streak without starting center Mitchell Robinson. Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson have done a magnificent job filling in for Robinson.
Julius Randle is a co-favorite to win the NBA Most Improved Player award, but the way he’s been playing, Randle (23.7 ppg, 10.5 rebounds) should get consideration for MVP. Unlike the Brooklyn Nets and their Big 3, Randle is really a one-man wrecking crew.
Trey Happy, Nasty 3-D
When Thibodeau took over as head coach of the Knicks, fans expected the team would hunker down and play great defense. No one expected the Knicks would lead the league as the best defensive team, allowing opponents to score just 104.3 ppg.
Thibs and the Knicks also boast the NBA’s best perimeter defense, allowing teams to shoot just 33.6% from 3-point range. In case you’re wondering, the Knicks also have the best-overall defensive field-goal percentage, and hold teams to just 44% shooting from the floor.
The Knicks have also quietly become one of the league’s top 3-point shooting teams. They’re currently ranked #3, shooting 38% from downtown. Only the LA Clippers (41.9%) and Utah Jazz (39%) are better long-range bombers from beyond the arc.
Alec Burks leads the Knicks with 40.8% from 3-point land. Reggie Bullock and Randle both shoot 40.1%, while RJ Barret isn’t far behind at 39.1%.
Rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley has quickly closed the gap on his long-range shooting. IQ, who’s emerged as a fan-favorite at MSG, averages 38.1% from 3-point range after struggling to find his shot in the first half of the season.
The Knicks are the second-best team in the NBA at covering the point spread, with a 37-21-1 ATS record.
On Deck at MSG: Hawks, Raptors, Suns, Bulls
The Knicks have 13 games remaining on their schedule. If they lock up the #4 seed, they’ll gain home-court advantage in the opening round. The Knicks are 19-10 at Madison Square Garden this season, and it’s been a very long time since fans flocked to MSG to cheer them on during the postseason.
They have four games left in their current six-game homestand. The Knicks play a big game on Wednesday night against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. If the Knicks keep their winning streak alive, they’ll move into the #4 seed.
“We just got to take it day-by-day, not to think ahead,” said Derrick Rose. “Of course you want the spot, but we got to take it every day, every practice, every shootaround.”
“We just go day-by-day, step-by-step, and if we’re taking care of all the things we need to take care of, then all of the other stuff will take care of itself,” added Thibs.
This weekend, the Knicks host the Toronto Raptors, who are seeing their postseason hopes slip away. Next week, they have two games at MSG when the Phoenix Suns come to Gotham, and the Chicago Bulls swing into town. The Bulls currently sit in the #10 seed in the Eastern Conference, yet have the Raptors and Washington Wizards chasing them down in a last gasp to snag an invite to the play-in postseason tournament.
The Knicks hit the road in early May for a six-game road trip against Western Conference teams. It’s a tough stretch that includes playoff-bound teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and LA Lakers.
The Knicks finish the regular season with a three-game homestand against the San Antonio Spurs, Charlotte Hornets, and surging Boston Celtics.