Sweeping a series, whether it’s a weekend at Yankee Stadium, an NFC East rivalry, a home-and-home in the NHL or a four-game schedule against the Charlotte Bobcats is tough to pull off much of the time, no matter the sport, and usually no matter the disparity between teams.
In the NBA, especially with that lopsided home-court advantage, you never know what final result might pop up on the scoreboard. A four-game sweep of any team, even the Toronto Raptors, is a daunting task.
Certainly for the New York Knicks it is. They went 2-2 against the 23-43 Raptors in 2011-12.
Toronto's not one of the teams the Knicks will sweep in 2012-13, either.
The 10 teams you are about to see are some of the worst in today’s NBA. On paper, the New York Knicks should sweep them all. Reality, though, usually has a different plan.
There are too many variables—injury, back-to-back games, fatigue, food poisoning, a lumpy away hotel bed—for New York to go 30-0 here. That is not going to happen.
The Knicks went 17-9 against these 10 teams last year. The Boston Celtics, who really hit a road bump midseason, went 17-7. The Champion Miami Heat went 18-5. The No. 1 seeded Chicago Bulls won almost half their games against them, going 21-4.
So, to keep pace with the best teams in the Eastern Conference, clearly the Knicks must beat these teams as much as possible. They swept just three of them last year.
To get to the next level, the Knicks must sweep more than half of them—six of the 10—at least, and either tie or take the season series from the other four. That would put the Knicks at somewhere in between those Heat and Bulls percentages. Good enough for me.
Mark your calendars for these games and don’t discount their importance in the big postseason picture.
Here are, briefly, the four teams the Knicks would really like to sweep but won’t, followed by the six they must and will.
Heck, sweep them all and that just might help clinch the No. 1 seed.