With an improbable victory 89-84 over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, the New York Knicks are right on the cusp of forcing me to apologize for stating, both implicitly and explicitly, that they had little change of making the postseason. However, with Sunday’s win bringing the Knicks to within a game of the Atlanta Hawks in the race for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot, it seems very possible that the Knicks will be able to win enough of the eight games remaining on their slate, to slide into the first round of the postseason.
As likely as it is becoming to envision the Knicks actually making the playoffs, for the first portion of Sunday’s contest, it seemed extremely unlikely that the Knicks would be able to triumph over the Warriors. In fact, the first nine minutes of the contest followed a very predictable script. The Warriors have been a superior team to the Knicks all season so it made perfect sense when they raced out to a twelve-point lead after the first 14 minutes of the game; the Warriors rode some hot shooting to build that lead, converting on 11 of their first 20 field goal attempts, including making five three-pointers.
From there, though, the pendulum of the game swung in a big way back to the Knicks. After finding themselves down 34-22 early in the second quarter, the Knicks embarked upon a 12-0 run to tie the game, fell behind again as the sputtering Warriors offense fired up again, and then closed out the final 2:08 of the second quarter on a 15-0 run to hold a 56-44 halftime lead.
Of course, as anyone who has followed the Knicks all season knows, no lead is safe in their hands so it was methodically and inevitably that the Mavericks chopped their way into the Knicks’ lead before finally being able to yell “timber” when the lead had been felled with 2:42 left in the contest; a Stephen Curry three-pointer did the honor of giving the last blow and demolishing a lead the Knicks had been the majority of the game building and then maintaining.
In multiple games this season, the Knicks have completely fallen apart after an opponent turned the latter stages of the game into a closely contested affair, but on Sunday night, the Knicks displayed a resiliency that has been too often lacking this season. Instead of allowing the Curry three-pointer to be the jumping off point for an impressive comeback victory for the Warriors, the Knicks showed a level of efficiency on both sides of the court. They knocked down six straight crucial free throws and also benefited from a Carmelo Anthony jumper while holding the Warriors to 1 of 5 from the field and also forcing a Warriors turnover.
Now the Knicks will hope that they can continue their winning ways, which is an iffy proposition considering they will be facing playoff-bound teams in seven of their next eight contests. So while the Knicks might be on the cusp of forcing me to retract some of my comments about their postseason chances, reaching the playoff summit might prove to be beyond their capabilities.