The Knicks were bound to cool off at some point — it’s the natural order of things in professional sports.
New York has lost three of their last four after winning a season-high nine straight games, which helped them go 14-2 in January and 16-3 across a 19-game stretch to catapult them up the Eastern Conference standings to fourth place.
But rather than any slight regression in play that comes with the ebbs and flows of a season, it was the injury bug that sparked this mini-swoon in February.
Julius Randle is out for at least another week or two while OG Anunoby underwent surgery last week to repair an injured elbow that will keep him out for three weeks. Their top two centers, Mitchell Robinson (done for the season) and Isaiah Hartenstein are also on the shelf.
They received good news with Jalen Brunson, who missed just one game after spraining his ankle last week. He returned to action on Saturday night in the Knicks’ 125-111 loss to the Indiana Pacers and scored 39 points.
“We’re short-handed and we’re going to have to play a lot harder and a lot tougher,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I’m disappointed in the result, but I’m not disappointed in our team.”
The Knicks bolstered their depth at the trade deadline, bringing on a pair of proven veterans in forward Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to cushion the blow of being without Randle and Anunoby as the NBA regular season nears the final turn into the home stretch.
It’s helped create a deep roster that has already received invaluable contributions from the likes of Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, and Precious Achiuwa.
Couple that with a team that has made hard-nosed, stingy defense commonplace under Thibodeau and the Knicks are still considered one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference this season — odds that might shorten even further once they return to full strength.
Here is where things currently stand, courtesy of DraftKings. For more NBA odds, click here.
Odds to win Eastern Conference
- Boston Celtics +125
- Milwaukee Bucks +260
- New York Knicks +700
- Philadelphia 76ers +1100
- Cleveland Cavaliers +1100
- Miami Heat +1500
Odds to win NBA Finals
- Boston Celtics +265
- Denver Nuggets +450
- LA Clippers +500
- Milwaukee Bucks +650
- Phoenix Suns +1300
- New York Knicks +2000
For more on the Knicks, visit AMNY.com