With over a third of the season already completed, the New York Knicks find themselves with a 11-15 record, leaving them half a game behind the last spot in the playoffs.
The month of February will be a very crucial stretch for the Knicks, but it won’t be easy since Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire both will be out for a portion of the time.
Anthony will reportedly be out at least one to two weeks with a groin injury he suffered in the game against Utah on Monday. Stoudemire is still grieving the loss of his brother from a tragic car accident and isn’t expected to return to the Knicks until Monday.
In order to overcome this and still have a successful month, the Knicks are going to need Tyson Chandler to step up and be a dominant presence on offense; Jeremy Lin needs to continue his amazing ball-handling and distribution as starting PG; and one or two of the wingmen—Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert or Toney Douglas—are going to need to go on a hot streak from behind the arc.
If everyone does their respective job and the Knicks play as a team, they will be able to overcome the loss of their two stars. Here are my predictions for the next 10 games for the Knicks.
I believe Derek Fisher is too slow to keep up with Jeremy Lin so I expect another big game from Lin in his third career start. Unfortunately, that’s the only positive I see for the Knicks this game.
Ultimately the Knicks have no one who can stop Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will be too much for Tyson Chandler to stop all by himself. The Los Angeles Lakers may embarrass the short-handed Knicks and end their three-game winning streak.
Prediction: Lakers 108 Knicks 91
The Knicks will bounce back and play a hard-fought game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It will be difficult for Jared Jeffries to keep up with Kevin Love, but the Wolves also don’t have anyone who can stop Tyson Chandler in the paint.
Chandler puts up another double-double and the Knicks hit just enough threes to earn them the victory in this one.
Prediction: Knicks 89 Timberwolves 86
Amar’e Stoudemire returns and has the best game of the season in memory of his brother. He will be all over the court like a madman this game, throwing down numerous dunks and will even be a presence on defense as well.
His emotion will be infectious and Tyson Chandler will also dominate the paint with him, leading to an easy victory for the Knicks.
Prediction: Knicks 105 Raptors 89
The Knicks have had a really tough time this season putting together back-to-back quality games. The Sacramento Kings aren’t one of the better teams in the league, but unfortunately the Knicks often play down to their competition instead of dominating the weaker teams.
If I were Mike D’Antoni I would start Iman Shumpert instead of Landry Fields this game, since he is the only guard athletic enough to guard Tyreke Evans. I don’t see D’Antoni making any adjustments though, and the Knicks suffer a tough loss.
Prediction: Kings 95 Knicks 89
It's possible Carmelo Anthony will be back for this game, but I expect him to be out on the longer side of the reported one to two weeks. Regardless, Eric Gordon should still be out with a knee injury when this game comes around, so the Knicks shouldn’t have a hard time handling the New Orleans Hornets in this one.
The Hornets have decent big men in Emeka Okafor and Chris Kaman, but Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler will prevail in the end.
Prediction: Knicks 93 Hornets 85
This will be Tyson Chandler's first game against his former team. Since losing Chandler, the Dallas Mavericks have been a really streaky team and only have a 15-11 record. With Carmelo Anthony I think the Knicks put up a fight, but it will be tough for them to win without him.
The Mavericks will use their depth and experience to defeat the short-handed Knicks.
Prediction: Mavericks 87 Knicks 80
Hopefully Carmelo Anthony will be able to return from his groin injury this game. Since the New Jersey Nets aren’t a very strong team, they should be able to ease Anthony back into the lineup, playing him only 20 to 25 minutes, and still win the game.
The Nets have very weak big men so Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler should dominate this game in both paints to earn the easy victory for the Knicks.
Prediction: Knicks 89 Nets 76
Even without Al Horford, the Atlanta Hawks have been keeping up with the better teams in the East. This will be the first real test for the Knicks with all of the "Big Three" playing and Jeremy Lin running the point.
The key to this game for the Knicks will be stopping Joe Johnson, who is a matchup nightmare as a 6'7" guard. Iman Shumpert will have his hands full, but I think he can keep Johnson in check and the Knicks will use their height advantage to win this game.
Prediction: Knicks 106 Hawks 102
Finally, we get to see the game we’ve been waiting for all season. Unfortunately, Carmelo Anthony was injured and missed the first Knicks/Miami Heat game this season, so this will be the first time the teams will be battling at full strength.
I expect a very fast-paced game with numerous highlight-reel plays from both teams. If the Knicks want to win this game, Anthony is going to need to be the guy who wins it for them. I believe he comes through for New York with 35-plus points, at least 15 of them coming in crunch time during the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Knicks 106 Heat 104
This will be the first game for the Knicks after the All-Star break. The Knicks were embarrassed by the Cleveland Cavaliers the first time they played this season. The Cavs won the game by 10 points and Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler were all held to under 20 points.
The Cavs used a very balanced attack the last time to beat the Knicks. I think the Knicks will learn from their mistakes and seek redemption with their most lopsided victory of the season in this one.
Prediction: Knicks 98 Cavaliers: 74