The New York Knicks schedule for the 2014-15 season is out and the thing to take away from it is, be patient. The Knicks may be a good team fighting for a playoff spot but there is a chance that this fact may go unnoticed early in the season.
Starting on November 24th and ending on January 10th, the Knicks have a 26 game stretch where only five games are played against teams that are not expected to miss the playoffs this year. Those games are: At New Orleans, at Boston, at Sacremento, vs Detroit, and vs Milwaukee.
What you’ll notice is that the first three games are on the road, making them a little tougher. What also hurts is that of these likely non-playoff teams, Anthony Davis, Demarcus Cousins, and Andre Drummond are all capable of taking over games for stretches.
The playoff opponents in this stretch include the Spurs, Cavaliers, Rockets (twice), Dallas (twice), Thunder, and Miami. So the Knicks will be tested early and often. With a new coach and some new pieces to the roster this may mean a slow start but it shouldn’t doom the Knicks out of the playoff race by any stretch, especially in the East.
The Knicks do follow that 26 game bear of a stretch with ten (January 15th- February 3rd) where only two are projected playoff teams (Charlotte and Oklahoma City) and six of the ten at home. If New York can weather this early storm and come out of it around .500 these next ten games should allow them to feast on some lesser competition and stay right in the middle of that top eight.
The Knicks have a rough March, including a trip to the West Coast to play Phoenix and Golden State and then hosting the Spurs, Grizzlies, and Clippers but April helps offset that.
Five of the Knicks eight April games are against teams expected to be in the lottery next year, and two of the three potential playoff teams are Brooklyn and Atlanta, neither of two should be especially scary. The Knicks also play five home games that month but two of the three road games are at Washington and at Atlanta. Ideally they could swap out hosting Philadelphia and Milwaukee for the Wizards and Hawks but it is still manageable nonetheless.
On April 1st, the Knicks host the Nets and with both expecting to be fighting for those last few playoff spots, that game could be huge. The Knicks and Nets dominated each other last year at times but with notorious Knicks killer Paul Pierce now in DC, the matchup seems a little more in the Knicks favor.
New York and Atlanta could be in the same situation but given the injury history or the Hawks, specifically Al Horford it is much harder to predict that. They could clinch a spot in late March/early April if he and Millsap are healthy all year and trying to sneak in the backdoor if Horford is out.
While the Knicks schedule has some tough stretches, they’re still in the Eastern Conference where they play 50 games against the East and making the playoffs is comically easier than in the West. Patience from fans over the first two months though is key. If the Knicks can make it through that that should be a sign of good things to come.