Posted on: March 3, 2023, 02:21h.
Last updated on: March 3, 2023, 02:39h.
The New York Knicks have won seven games in a row, and they’re undefeated since acquiring guard Josh Hart in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Milwaukee Bucks (45-17) have won 16 games in a row and counting, which is the longest winning streak in the NBA this season. The Bucks have the top record in the NBA and jumped ahead of the Boston Celtics (45-18) for the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
With the Bucks garnering significant attention with their active winning streak, the Knicks are flying under the radar with their recent seven-game winning streak.
Knicks Get Title Odds Boost
The Knicks (37-27) passed the Brooklyn Nets (34-28) and moved into fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They’re only 1.5 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-26) in fourth place. If the season ended today, the Cavs and Knicks would meet in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Knicks have 18 more games remaining in the regular season and a chance to seize the #4 seed away from the Cavs, which would give them home-court advantage in the first round.
We’re on a mission,” said center Mitchell Robinson. “We wanna be in the playoffs. Everybody wants to be there. Everybody on the team is gonna fight.”
Two weeks ago, the Knicks were +2000 odds to win the 2022-23 NBA championship. The Knicks saw their title odds move to +1500 last week, and it jumped to +1200 this week after an impressive victory over the Boston Celtics. The Knicks are +3500 odds to win the Eastern Conference and secure a spot in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1999.
FiveThirtyEight predicts the Knicks will finish the regular season with a 47-35 record. According to their projections, the Knicks have a 4% chance to advance to the NBA Finals, but have only a 1% chance to win the championship.
The Post-Hart Surge
In early December, the Knicks were 10-13 after a 2-6 stretch. Fans at Madison Square Garden showered the team with a steady stream of boos due to their poor defense and shaky offense.
The Knicks thought they corrected the ship with an eight-game winning streak in mid-December, but they lost all their steam with a five-game skid to end 2022. The Knicks were 18-18 and head coach Tom Thibodeau knew he had to make drastic changes as the team approached the midway point of the season.
The Knicks are 19-9 since New Year’s Eve and have the fifth-best record in the NBA since the start of 2023. Their turnaround coincided with a shakeup in the starting lineup and overall rotation. Thibodeau demoted, then eventually benched, shooting guard Evan Fournier for his inconsistent offense and awful defense. Cam Reddish, a backup wing player, was also benched due to his lackluster play.
The Knicks acquired Hart from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Reddish, a first-round draft pick in 2023, and the little-used Ryan Arcidiacono and Svi Mykhailiuk.
Thibodeau took a quick shine to the energetic Hart who loves to play defense. Hart was also reunited with his former Villanova teammate Jalen Brunson. The two guards won an NCAA championship together in the 2016 March Madness men’s college basketball tournament.
In seven games with the Knicks, Hart is averaging 12.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.3 steals off the bench in only 26.3 minutes per game. The Knicks are 7-0 since he suited up first with the team before the NBA All-Star break.
MSG Point Guard Show with Brunson and Quickley
The Knicks added Brunson with a lucrative free-agent contract in the offseason, and the Knicks finally the point guard they’ve been desperately missing for the last two decades.
Brunson is the Knicks’ second-highest scorer, averaging 23.8 points per game and shooting 41% from 3-point range. He also averages 6.2 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 0.9 steals per game.
Brunson has been the MVP of the Knicks this season, and a more consistent and steady force than leading scorer Julius Randle. The moody Randle can often lose his cool with officials, and in the past, the Knicks would lose games after a Randle meltdown. Brunson has been able to keep the Knicks focused on nights that Randle goes on tilt.
Backup point guard Immanuel Quickley, a third-year player out of Kentucky, is having the best season of his career with the Knicks, averaging 15.4 points per game off the bench. Although he was the subject of rampant trade rumors, Quickley remained professional and didn’t let the speculation affect his game. Quickley is now a contender to win the NBA Sixth Man of the Year after a sensational second half of the season.
Fans were worried that Quickley would get lost in the shuffle after the Knicks signed Brunson in the offseason. But the opposite occurred, and Quickley elevated his game across the board. The Knicks maintain a high energy level whenever Quickley subs in for Brunson.
Thibodeau recently experimented with two point guards on the court at the same time. Brunson and Quickley are playing together much more in the fourth quarter, with Quickley taking over at point guard and Brunson sliding over to shooting guard. That dynamic duo could be a winning combination during crunch time in the postseason.
On Deck: Miami Heat, Boston Celtics
The Knicks hit the road this weekend for two games and a chance to establish their longest winning streak of the season.
The Knicks meet the Miami Heat on Friday night. They’re -3 favorites and the Heat find themselves as a home dog. There’s no shortage of New York transplants in South Florida, so expect the crowd to have numerous, boisterous Knicks fans in attendance. The Heat lost to the Knicks at MSG by two points in early February, but Brunson missed the game with a non-COVID illness.
The Knicks are 35-26-3 against the point spread this season, and they have the third-best betting record in the NBA. The Knicks covered the spread in six straight games, and they’re 6-1 ATS during their seven-game winning streak.
The Knicks upset the Celtics on Monday night with a 10-point victory at MSG, and Brunson exploded for 39 points in the win. On Sunday, the Celtics get a rematch on their home parquet court at TD Garden in Boston. If the Knicks defeat the Heat, they could have an eight-game winning streak on the line when they battle the Celtics in Boston on Sunday.
The Knicks have one easy home game next week against the Charlotte Hornets before they leave Gotham for a four-game road trip on the West Coast. The Knicks have three away games in California starting with the Sacramento Kings before back-to-back games in Los Angeles against the Clippers and Lakers next weekend. The Knicks end their western sojourn against superstar Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.
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