The way the New York Knicks’ 2012-13 schedule was assembled will drastically affect their odds of reaching the championship next season.
The Knicks will have to be on their game when training camp concludes if they want to get off to a hot start. Eight out of their first nine games of the season are against teams that made the playoffs last season, including games against the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, who played in the Eastern Conference Championship and Western Conference Championship respectively. Also, more than half of these games will be played on the road where the Knicks struggled recently.
If the Knicks can survive this brutal start and come out of it with a record over .500, life gets much easier for them in the month of December. Seven out of the following eight games are against non-playoff teams. Following that, the Knicks have six straight games at home. This stretch of games only includes one team that made it past the first round of the playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Lakers.
New York will also be heavily featured on national television during December. Nine out of their 15 games will be shown on ESPN, TNT, ABC or NBA TV. Over the entire season, nearly 40 percent of these team’s games will be shown on one of these channels.
Whether the Knicks have a winning or losing record heading into the final month and a half before the All-Star break, they should succeed during this time. Even though they need to play some tough teams before the break, like Boston twice, San Antonio and Brooklyn, 13 of these games will be in Madison Square Garden with only seven on the road. One of those road games is even an international showcase where the Knicks will take on the Detroit Pistons in an undetermined location outside of the United States.
The determining factor in the Knicks’ championship hopes will be how well they do coming back from the All-Star break. For the remainder of the season, there are no stretches longer than two games in a row where the Knicks don’t play a team that made the playoffs last season.
March will be the toughest month of the season for the Knicks. The beginning of the month has them playing both teams who were in the championship last season, the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, in the first five games. The end of the month will also be very hard when they need to face Boston twice plus the Memphis Grizzlies in the last four games.
To make matters worse, April starts off just as hard as March did. Within the first four games of the month this time, they again see both the Heat and Thunder.
Luckily, if the Knicks are still fighting for playoff seeding or even a playoff spot by the end of the season, they finish with a few very winnable games. The Knicks play the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Bobcats during the final six games of the season. These teams finished with the worst three records in the NBA during the 2011-12 season.
Overall, the Knicks should be very successful prior to the All-Star break and then will be heavily tested during the second half of the season. This schedule should favor New York’s championship odds since they can use the momentum gained by winning early to help them stay strong during the tougher second half.
If the Knicks can earn home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, this season should be considered a success for the New York Knicks.