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Yes, the New York Knicks have surged back into the playoff race behind some of their best team basketball in a calendar year.
No, they should never have been in this position to begin with.
After a rejuvenating 54-win campaign a year ago, the Knicks entered the 2013-14 season to somewhat tempered expectations. With a number of conference rivals having reloaded their roster holsters, most expected the Knicks to crater a handful of games at most.
But then a handful turned into a lot.
It started off innocently enough: A loss on the road to the Chicago Bulls, a home dud against the San Antonio Spurs—your typical early-season rust.
But then two losses turned into three, then four, then nine. Before you knew it, the Knicks were reeling, with key players—including Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton—racking up injuries left and right. Two wins forward, three losses back, on and on until New York faced a self-imposed ultimatum: Win out, or go golfing.
Even if the Knicks somehow manage to save playoff face, even given the franchise-rejuvenating potential of the Phil Jackson hire, it’s hard not to view this as a lost season—particularly in light of the decision facing Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to opt out of the last year of his contract and test unrestricted free agency.
Still, for this season anyway, the Knicks have something the four other teams on this list don’t: hope of actually making a playoff statement.
Speaking to Marc Berman of the New York Post following the Knicks 92-83 win over the Utah Jazz Monday night, Tyson Chandler put to words the optimism many a Knicks fan are beginning to feel, saying, “I always thought we’d really give our ourselves a shot of making the playoffs. I still believe if we get in there, somebody’s going to be in trouble.’’
Remember 1999? New York sure does.