This time last year, New York Knicks fans didn’t have a lot to look forward to. Julius Randle wasn’t the same player that he was in 2020-21 and the Knicks were struggling to win games. The only good thing was that RJ Barrett was having an explosive second half of the season, which wasn’t enough to help New York finish in play-in range.
After a chaotic offseason, the Knicks entered 2022-23 without a “star” player (ie: Donovan Mitchell), which caused many to write them off once again. The front office only gave up one protected first-round pick ahead of the trade deadline for Josh Hart, who isn’t the star player that New York has been searching for.
But hey, the Knicks have proven that they’re a team that you don’t want to match up against. The perfect example of that was Monday’s 109-94 win over the Celtics. The win not only was New York’s sixth straight, but it also propelled the team up the conference standings to No. 5.
The culture is shifting. Of all teams, how have the Knicks been able to pull off this transformation? Well, it’s best to listen to what Malcolm Brogdon had to say after Boston came up short to New York for the second time this season.
Malcolm Brogdon compliments Knicks after Celtics’ 109-94 loss
For those that are still doubting that the Knicks are building something special, it’s best to listen to what other players in the league are saying.
Or, in this case, listen to Malcolm Brogdon while looking at the box score. Boston shot 9-of-43 from three at MSG, so there’s proof that the Knicks were forcing the Celtics to take tough threes. Sure, Boston’s shots just weren’t falling, but a large part of that was because of New York’s defense. It’s okay to admit that sometimes Tom Thibodeau comes in handy.
The Celtics were without Jaylen Brown, who was out due to personal reasons, but would he have been able to be that big of a difference-maker for Boston? No offense to Brown, but probably not. It was simply New York’s night, but it wasn’t luck.
If the season ended today, the Knicks would earn a playoff berth without going through the play-in tournament. There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played in the regular season, but no, it wouldn’t be shocking if New York finished in the top six of the Eastern Conference at the end of the regular season.
The Knicks may still be without the star player that they’ve been waiting to trade for, but this team isn’t one that any other team should want to meet up with in the first round of the playoffs.