Amar'e Stoudamire and the New York Knicks: Smoking Hot or Johnny on the Spot?
The New York Knicks have the hottest streak in the NBA going right now. They've won five straight and 10 of their last 11. It's almost as if the team suddenly found itself overnight, as this hot streak came following a six-game winning streak. Down 27-14 against the Sacremento Kings and heading for their seventh straight loss, they suddenly turned things around and haven't looked back.
Over the course of that time Amare Stoudamire has stepped up his game, scoring 27 points and grabbing 9.6 rebounds per game. Over the last five he's been scoring 34 and 11 boards. They've started figuring out one another and Mark D'Antoni's system. Everyone is raving about how well this team is playing. There's no question about it, basketball is back in the Big Apple.
Or is it? Upon closer examination, the Knicks opponents are really not that impressive, and by "not that impressive" I mean, downright bad. On the season, New York has the weakest schedule in the NBA with a total winning percentage of .409. In fact, the combined record of the teams the Knicks have beaten during their streak is 74 wins and 137 losses, a total winning percentage of .341. They've beaten one winning team over that stretch, the New Orleans Horents, who have lost four of their last six.
And it gets worse from there. Over their last 10 games, the the Knicks 10 "victims" have won a combined total of 31 games and lost 69—a wining percentage of .310. Even more telling is that of those 31 wins, 12 have come against one another, inflating their win percentage. If you don't count those games, their collective winning percentage is .250.
How impressed are you by the Knicks "hot streak"?
Finally, those opponents, out of all their 100 games in their last 100. have a grand total of nine wins against teams with winning records. All but one of the teams the Knicks have beaten are in the bottom 10 of the Hollinger Rankings. Six are in the bottom seven. These teams are bad. Really, really bad.
It's not that New York that doesn't deserve some credit for their win streak. They absolutely do. Let's just not pretend that there's more to this than there is, a combination of a slightly above average team coinciding with a ridiculously easy schedule.
Yes, the Knicks have improved and are continuing to improve. They have two more games against Toronto and Washington. After that things are going to get a lot rougher, as 15 of their next 18 games will be against teams with winning records. Let's hold off on seeing how they handle that stretch before we start dubbing them contenders shall we?
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