Knicks once again face brutal schedule to end December

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Knicks once again face brutal schedule to end December

Entering Friday’s matchup against the Suns, the Knicks have nine games left on the schedule before New Year’s Day.

Entering Friday’s matchup against the Suns, the Knicks have nine games left on the schedule before New Year’s Day.

The schedule isn’t getting any easier.

The Knicks have the fourth-most difficult remaining schedule in all of basketball starting with Friday’s matchup against the Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal-led Phoenix Suns, and after a surgery-inducing injury to starting center Mitchell Robinson, New York faces a brutal slate of games to close out the calendar year.

Only three teams have a stronger remaining schedule: the Portland Trail Blazers, the Suns, and the league-worst Detroit Pistons.

To make matters worse, the Knicks gave away their easiest game of the remainder of the month in Utah with a 117-113 loss to a Jazz team short three starters on Wednesday.

Wins will be difficult to come by for a team that has slumped in recent weeks.


Entering Friday’s matchup against the Suns, the Knicks have nine games left on the schedule before New Year’s Day.

All nine of those opponents are expected to make the playoffs, the weakest on the docket residing over the bridge at Barclays Center in a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Dec 20.

As a reminder, the Knicks entered the Suns game 5-9 against teams with a winning record and 7-1 against teams with a losing record after the loss to the Jazz.

The Knicks don’t play another team with a losing record until Jan. 3 against the Chicago Bulls — and even the Bulls have an underperforming cast of stars in DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and the injured Zach LaVine.

The Knicks play the Suns and Los Angeles Clippers in a Friday-Saturday road back-to-back, then stay in Los Angeles another two days to face the Lakers on Monday.

That’s Durant, Booker, Beal, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis as opponents in a three-game stretch.

Then it’s back to New York to face the Nets, who are above-.500 even with Ben Simmons out of the lineup due to his nagging back injury, followed by back-to-back games against Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 23 and Christmas Day.


Traditionally games against the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers have been considered favorable matchups for the Knicks. But both the Magic and Pacers hold top-five seeds in the Eastern Conference as of Friday afternoon, with Orlando reigning as an early stunner with the No. 3 seed and the Pacers coming off of an appearance in the In-Season Tournament championship game in Las Vegas.

Not to mention the Oklahoma City Thunder have taken another step forward with the emergence of Chet Holmgren, a Rookie of the Year frontrunner in a two-man race with Spurs phenom Victor Wembanyama.

After back-to-back home games against Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, the Knicks embark on a three-game road trip to Oklahoma City, Orlando and Indiana.

Those three teams boast a combined 44-24 record as of Friday afternoon.


The January-February stretch will be critical to the Knicks’ playoff odds: They should be favored to win in at least 12 of their 23 games between Jan. 1 and the mid-February NBA All-Star break.

The Knicks have an opportunity to rattle off a nine-game winning streak from Jan. 6-23 with several consecutive matchups against teams with losing records: Washington, Portland, Dallas (winning record), Memphis, Orlando (winning record), Houston (winning record), Washington, Toronto and Brooklyn (winning record).

The Knicks kick-off the new year hosting Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves, and when they traveled to Minneapolis on Nov. 20 — with a healthy Robinson — the Wolves won by 17.


Robinson is expected to miss two months of action, which would put him back on the court Feb. 19 at the earliest.

The NBA Trade Deadline is Thurs., Feb. 8, and the Knicks are perpetually included in trade rumors, most recently another round of Donovan Mitchell whispers with several of his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates out due to injury.

The Dec. 15 date has swiftly arrived as the date 80% of players who signed a new contract over the summer become trade eligible.

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