With Friday's 93-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks became the first NBA team to win eight consecutive games immediately following a seven-game losing streak since the Houston Rockets did the same during the 1992-93 season, per Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN.
For the Knicks, the eight-game winning streak has been a more surprising development than the run of losses, as the team held an ugly 21-33 record prior to this recent stretch. Said record fell all the way to 21-40, before rebounding to 29-40 following Friday's result.
As is the case for most significant winning streaks in the NBA, New York's recent run has been fueled by an incredibly soft schedule. A March 5 road win against the Minnesota Timberwolves that started the streak stands out, as does Wednesday's victory over the Indiana Pacers. Otherwise, the Knicks have beaten (chronologically) the Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers, 76ers, Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and the 76ers again.
Six of the eight wins have come against teams that currently own a winning percentage of .376 or worse. In terms of record, the 26-43 Cavs are the third-best team the Knicks have beaten during the run. Accounting for the fact that they've played the 15-54 76ers twice, New York's opponents during the eight-game stretch have a combined record of 199-351 (.362 winning percentage) this season, heading into Saturday's games.
The winning streak might be more impressive had the preceding stretch of losses come against a similarly skewed stretch of schedule. The Knicks' seven opponents during the run of futility—the Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons—have a combined 246-234 record as of Saturday, good for a rather ordinary .513 winning percentage.
No matter how you break it down, the Knicks are a middling team, at best, and aren't the type of squad that you'd expect to piece together a winning streak of more than five or six games.
The 1992-93 Rockets were a different story, as the team started 14-9, before losing seven straight to fall to to 14-16. Houston went on to win its next eight games and 41 of its final 52, finishing the regular season at impressive 55-27, only to fall at the hands of the Seattle SuperSonics in an intense seven-game series in the Western Conference Semifinals.
For the 2013-14 Knicks, the phrases "intense" and "seven games" won't be a part of the postseason experience, and that's if the team manages to qualify. Sitting three games behind the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks heading into Saturday's slate, the Knickerbockers still have plenty of work to do for the honor of being toyed around with by Indiana or Miami in the first round.
On a more positive note, the Knicks head into Sunday's game against the Cavs with a chance to become the first team in league history to follow a seven-game losing streak with a winning streak of nine games or more, per the Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring.