Now that the New York Knicks 2012-2013 schedule has finally been released, it's time to start circling those can't-miss games on the calender.
The Knicks had a very active offseason, and will use their new additions to build on the 36-30 record that earned them the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference last season.
If the Knicks can stay healthy and improve on their weaknesses from last season, (scoring off the bench and defense), there is no reason they should get bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the third year in a row.
Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler need to become better leaders next season. The superstars must push the rest to win the majority of their games against the non-playoff teams, like the Pistons, Cavaliers and Bobcats.
Here is the Knicks 2012-2013 schedule and a breakdown of the key games and analysis for each month this season.
-Nov. 1 @ Brooklyn Nets, 7 p.m.
-Nov. 2 vs. Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
-Nov. 4 vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 12 p.m.
-Nov. 5 @ Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m.
-Nov. 9 vs. Dallas Mavericks, 7:30 p.m.
-Nov. 13 @ Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.
-Nov. 15 @ San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m.
-Nov. 16 @ Memphis Grizzlies, 9:30 p.m.
-Nov. 18 vs. Indiana Pacers, 12 p.m.
-Nov. 20 @ New Orleans Hornets, 8 p.m.
-Nov. 21 @ Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.
-Nov. 23 @ Houston Rockets, 8 p.m.
-Nov. 25 vs. Detroit Pistons, 1 p.m.
-Nov. 28 @ Milwaukee Bucks, 8 p.m.
Nov. 1 @ Brooklyn Nets
This is the first official game at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. It will also revive a rivalry between the Knicks and the Nets that hasn't been competitive since early in the previous decade.
Nov. 2 vs. Miami Heat
This game is the first of four matchups between the Knicks and the Heat this season. The Knicks will have their first chance to prove to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade that they are improved and can take them in a seven-game playoff series.
Nov. 23 @ Houston Rockets
The most surprising move of the offseason was when the Knicks didn't match the ridiculous offer by the Houston Rockets for Jeremy Lin. Now they will have their chance to prove to the world they made the right decision, and that they don't need Lin to reach the playoffs once again.
November W-L Prediction: 9-6
Wins: Nets, 76ers, Magic, Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, Pistons, Bucks, Wizards
Losses: Heat, 76ers, Mavericks, Spurs, Grizzlies, Pacers
Best One-on-One Matchup of November
What could be better than watching Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James battle it out? James dominated the head-to-head series last season (7-1), but Melo will be determined to get this season's series started off on the right note when the two teams meet in the Knicks' second game.
It will be imperative for Melo to win the individual battle with LeBron if the Knicks want to have any chance of striking fear in the Heat next season.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for November
The Knicks have a tough stretch during the first month of the season with six road games in a seven-game period. They will be tested early on to see what this team is really made of.
It's always important not to fall behind early on and have to play catch up the remainder of the season. With stellar play on their road trip, the Knicks should be able to have double-digit victories in November.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for November
Almost half of the Knicks' games this month are against teams that made the playoffs last year. Besides these teams, they also need to face the much-improved Nets and a Dallas Mavericks team that will be hungry to get back to the playoffs again.
If the Knicks struggle against the top teams in the league like they did last season, they could end November near the bottom of the Atlantic Division looking up at the Celtics, 76ers and Nets.
-Dec. 2 vs. Phoenix Suns, 12 p.m.
-Dec. 5 @ Charlotte Bobcats, 7 p.m.
-Dec. 6 @ Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
-Dec. 8 @ Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m.
-Dec. 9 vs. Denver Nuggets, 7:30 p.m.
-Dec. 11 @ Brooklyn Nets, 7 p.m.
-Dec. 13 vs. L.A. Lakers, 8 p.m.
-Dec. 15 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m.
-Dec. 17 vs. Houston Rockets, 7:30 p.m.
-Dec. 19 vs. Brooklyn Nets, 7 p.m.
-Dec. 21 vs. Chicago Bulls, 7:30 p.m.
-Dec. 23 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 5 p.m.
-Dec. 25 @ L.A. Lakers, 3 p.m.
-Dec. 26 @ Phoenix Suns, 9 p.m.
-Dec. 28 @ Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m.
Dec. 15 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
For some odd reason, the Knicks always struggle against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even though the Cavs only had 21 wins last season, two of them were against the Knicks. The Knicks clearly have more talent and experience than the Cavs do and must put them away easily if they want to compete for a championship.
Dec. 17 vs. Houston Rockets
Jeremy Lin will be returning to Madison Square Garden where his career took off last season. It will be interesting to see if the fans are still bitter that Lin isn't with the NYK anymore and will support their former point guard anyway.
Dec. 25 @ L.A. Lakers
This game will be played on Christmas Day. The entire country will be watching as the Knicks showcase their talent against Kobe Bryant and one of the best teams in the NBA on the best day of basketball.
December W-L Prediction: 9-6
Wins: Suns, Bobcats, Bulls, Cavaliers, Rockets, Nets, Timberwolves, Lakers, Suns
Losses: Heat, Nets, Lakers, Nuggets, Bulls, Kings
Best One-on-One Matchup of December
Dirk Nowitkzi and Amar'e Stoudemire are two of the best scoring power forwards in the NBA, but play two completely different styles. Nowitzki likes to hang out around the three-point line and shoot from distance. Stoudemire likes to play pick-and-roll and attack the basket.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for December
The Knicks play four different teams twice during the month of December: the Suns, Bulls, Nets and Lakers. The Knicks should have at least 10 wins this month if they can be victorious in at least six of these eight games, The remainder of their month should be pretty easy as they only have two other games against teams that made the playoffs last season.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for December
The Knicks end the month on a three-game west coast road trip that features the Lakers on Christmas, the Suns and Kings. A heartbreaking defeat by the Lakers could spill over to the remainder of the trip and cause the Knicks to finish the month on a three-game skid.
-Jan. 1 vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m.
-Jan. 3 vs. San Antonio Spurs, 7:30 p.m.
-Jan. 5 @ Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.
-Jan. 7 vs. Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m.
-Jan. 10 @ Indiana Pacers, 8 p.m.
-Jan. 11 vs. Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m.
-Jan. 13 vs. New Orleans Hornets, 12 p.m.
-Jan. 17 @ Detroit Pistons (International game), TBD
-Jan. 21 vs. Brooklyn Nets, 3:30 p.m.
-Jan. 24 @ Boston Celtics, 8 p.m.
-Jan. 26 @ Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m.
-Jan. 27 vs. Atlanta Hawks, 6:30 p.m.
-Jan. 30 vs. Orlando Magic, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 1 vs. Portland Trailblazers
Raymond Felton will be squaring off against his former team on New Years Day. He will definitely be going all out to prove to Portland he is much better than how he played for them last season.
Jan. 7 vs. Boston Celtics
This is the first matchup of the season between the Knicks and the Celtics. If the Knicks want to win the Atlantic Division for the first time since 1994, they must go through Boston to do so.
Jan. 17 @ Detroit Pistons
The Knicks will be facing the Detroit Pistons in an "international venue". It is undetermined as of right now where exactly the location of this game will be, but it definitely will be somewhere outside of the United States.
January W-L Prediction: 8-5
Wins: Trail Blazers, Celtics, Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, Nets, 76ers, Magic
Losses: Spurs, Magic, Pacers, Celtics, Hawks
Best One-on-One Matchup of January
Two of the best centers in the NBA will go to war when Tyson Chandler takes on Dwight Howard twice during January. Between the Knicks and the Magic, five of the last six Defensive Player of the Year award winners will be participating in this game.
Whichever center can own the paint on both ends of the floor will win these games for their respective team. This is of course assuming Howard is still on the Magic at this point in the season.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for January
The Knicks have a three-game stretch this month where they face three division foes: the Nets, Celtics and 76ers, in order. Sweeping their division rivals will prove they mean business this season and are determined to finish the year on top of the Atlantic Division.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for January
Nine of the 13 games the Knicks have this month are against teams that made the playoffs last season. If they don't step up to the competition, the Knicks can easily finish this month with a losing record. That will be a major setback for this team no matter what their record is entering the month.
-Feb. 1 vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m.
-Feb. 2 vs. Sacramento Kings, 7:30 p.m.
-Feb. 4 vs. Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m.
-Feb. 6 @ Washington Wizards, 7 p.m.
-Feb. 8 @ Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 p.m.
-Feb. 10 vs. L.A. Clippers, 1 p.m.
-Feb. 13 vs. Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m.
-Feb. 20 @ Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m.
-Feb. 22 @ Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m.
-Feb. 24 vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 7 p.m.
-Feb. 27 vs. Golden State Warriors, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 10 vs. L.A. Clippers
This is the only time the Clippers come to Madison Square Garden next year. The Knicks and the Clippers only squared off once last season with the Knicks coming out victorious.
The stadium will be packed to see Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the high-flying Clippers in action.
Feb. 13 vs. Toronto Raptors
This is the final game for the Knicks before the All-Star break. They will want to enter the break on a positive note for confidence in the second half of the season.
Feb. 27 vs. Golden State Warriors
This will be the first time Mark Jackson returns to Madison Square Garden as a head coach. The Knicks will be looking to spoil his homecoming and hand him his first loss as a coach in the building where his career began.
February W-L Prediction: 8-3
Wins: Bucks, Kings, Pistons, Wizards, Timberwolves, Raptors, 76ers, Warriors
Losses: Clippers, Pacers, Raptors
Best One-on-One Matchup of February
Raymond Felton and Chris Paul are two of the toughest point guards in the NBA. Even though neither player is very tall, Felton at 6'1" and Paul at 6'0", they are both willing to do the dirty work for their team and get in an opposing player's face.
This game is sure to be a scrappy one and a scuffle or two should be expected.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for February
This month has the potential to be the best month of the season for the Knicks. They open with five games against teams that had a combined record of 124-206 last season. The three teams they play to end the month also had a terrible combined record last season: 81-117.
If they can take advantage of all these weaker teams there's no reason the Knicks should lose more than two games in February.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for February
The All-Star break comes during the middle of this month. The Knicks can't get complacent before the break and take it easy during their final few games before the week off. If the Knicks players are thinking about their time off rather than their opponents, bad teams will sneak up on them.
-March 1 @ Washington Wizards, 7 p.m.
-March 3 vs. Miami Heat, 1 p.m.
-March 4 @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 7 p.m.
-March 6 @ Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m.
-March 7 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m.
-March 9 vs. Utah Jazz, 7:30 p.m.
-March 11 @ Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m.
-March 13 @ Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m.
-March 14 @ Portland Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m.
-March 17 @ L.A. Clippers, 3:30 p.m.
-March 18 @ Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m.
-March 20 vs. Orlando Magic, 7:30 p.m.
-March 22 @ Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m.
-March 23 vs. Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m.
-March 26 @ Boston Celtics, 7 p.m.
-March 27 vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m.
-March 29 vs. Charlotte Bobcats, 7:30 p.m.
-March 31 vs. Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m.
March 7 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder enter the season as the favorite in the Western Conference. If the Knicks can defeat them, they will prove to the rest of the league they are legitimate contenders to reach the finals this season.
March 13 @ Denver Nuggets
Carmelo Anthony returns to the city where he played the first eight seasons of his career. This will be the first time Melo returns to Denver since forcing his way out two seasons ago.
March 23 vs. Toronto Raptors
This is the second game of a home-and-home between the Knicks and the Raptors. At least one, if not both of these teams should still be in the hunt for a division title this late in the season, so these games will be critical.
March W-L Prediction: 12-6
Wins: Wizards, Heat, Pistons, Jazz, Warriors, Nuggets, Magic, Raptors, Raptors, Grizzlies, Bobcats, Celtics
Losses: Cavaliers, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Jazz, Celtics
Best One-on-One Matchup of March
Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony are two of the best scorers in the NBA and can shoot from any spot on the floor. If either team needs a clutch basket this season, the ball will be in Durant or Melo's hands.
Both players are capable of putting up 40 points on any given night, so expect to see a shootout when they face off in Madison Square Garden.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for March
The toughest teams the Knicks face this month are all games at home. During March, the Heat, Thunder and Celtics all come to the mecca of basketball to square off with the NYK.
If the home crowd can energize the team during these tough battles, the Knicks should have all the confidence in the world entering the final month of the season.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for March
During the middle of March, the Knicks need to play seven straight games against Western Conference teams. These games are usually difficult for the Knicks since they don't have as much experience against these teams.
If the Knicks have a losing record during this seven-game stretch, they will most likely finish the month with a losing record as well.
-April 2 @ Miami Heat, 8 p.m.
-April 3 @ Atlanta Hawks, 7 p.m.
-April 5 vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 7:30 p.m.
-April 7 @ Oklahoma City Thunder, 1 p.m.
-April 9 vs. Washington Wizards, 7:30 p.m.
-April 11 @ Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m.
-April 12 @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m.
-April 14 vs. Indiana Pacers, 3:30 p.m.
-April 15 @ Charlotte Bobcats, 7 p.m.
-April 17 vs. Atlanta Hawks, 8 p.m.
April 2 @ Miami Heat
The final meeting between the Knicks and the Heat will take place in American Airlines Arena. Both teams will be fighting for playoff seeding at this point, so this game should have a playoff atmosphere.
April 11 @ Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose should be back and healthy by this point. Even if the Bulls aren't in playoff contention anymore, Rose will still be looking to make up for all the time he missed this season with impressive play.
April 17 vs. Atlanta Hawks
This is the last game of the regular season for both teams. Hopefully the Knicks will have secured one of the top seeds in the East by now and will be able to rest their starters so they have fresh legs come playoff time.
Wins: Hawks, Bucks, Wizards, Cavaliers, Bobcats, Hawks
Losses: Heat, Thunder, Bulls, Pacers
Best One-on-One Matchup of April
With Derrick Rose expected to be out until at least March, this could be the only time Rose faces off against the Knicks.
This will mean that Raymond Felton is in for an extremely tough night, as Rose will certainly be trying to make up for lost time. If anyone is up for the challenge it's Felton though. He never backs down from battling with an opposing point guard.
Knicks' Best-Case Scenario for April
Hopefully this month won't mean much for the Knicks. They have some pretty tough opponents like the Heat, Thunder and Hawks twice. Yet, if all goes well, the Knicks will be on cruise control into the playoffs by now.
Obviously, you always want to finish the season strong, but if the Knicks have a chance to rest their stars down the stretch, Mike Woodson will definitely take advantage of it.
Knicks' Worst-Case Scenario for April
As I previously stated, the final month of the season will not be a cake walk for the Knicks. They have to play both teams that participated in the Finals last season, as well as teams like the Hawks, Bulls and Pacers who will be fighting to improve their seed. .
If the Knicks are still fighting for a playoff berth entering this final month, things can turn out very bad due to the tough opponents they will be going up against.
Final Record: 52-30
The New York Knicks have all the tools to become a dominant team in the NBA.
Tyson Chandler is the reining Defensive Player of the Year. He will dominate the paint and defensive glass once again for the Knicks and be in contention to take home the award for the second year in a row.
With all the work Amar'e Stoudemire has done with Hakeem Olajuwon this offseason, he will enter next year with a drastically improved offensive game.
Having Raymond Felton back in the starting lineup will also help STAT's production. When Felton and Stoudemire were playing together on the Knicks before Melo arrived, Felton was putting up career highs in points and assists, and Stoudemire was an MVP candidate.
The most important piece to any championship team is a closer who can step up and take over a game during those clutch moments. Carmelo Anthony has proven numerous times throughout his career that he thrives with the ball in his hands when the game is on the line.
The Knicks also have a much-improved bench from last season that can contribute when the starters are having an off night.
Jason Kidd is certainly still capable of handling the ball. J.R. Smith has the ability to come into a game and instantly spark the team with his playmaking ability. Marcus Camby may be old, but he still hustles just as much as ever has. He will be a very suitable replacement for Tyson Chandler when he needs a breather.
If all of these players can stay healthy, there is no reason the Knicks shouldn't be one of the top teams in the NBA next season. They may not be the favorites, but they definitely have the talent to defeat the the Heat, Celtics and Pacers in a seven-game series and advance to the NBA Championship.