With the NBA schedule coming out Tuesday, it is time to start predicting how the season will go.
Since the lockout lasted as long as it did, the preseason will only be two games, and the regular season will only be 66 games.
Each team will play the same team twice during the preseason. During the regular season, each team will play every other team in the league as usual, but they won’t get to play both home and away versus every team like in a full 82-game season.
The extended lockout definitely hurt the New York Knicks, who really would have benefited from a full training camp and preseason to practice playing together.
Here is my prediction for how this season will play out for the Knicks.
The Knicks will definitely be tested to open the season.
The scheduling committee was obviously thinking about TV ratings when it put the schedules together, as the Knicks play two of their four games in December on TNT versus tough, veteran teams.
December 25, Knicks vs. Celtics: The Garden will be rockin’ for this opening game. What better way to spend Christmas than watching the Knicks open their season against their biggest rival?
December 29, Knicks @ Lakers: Going on a West Coast trip so early in the season will definitely be rough, especially when you have to go play a fresh Lakers team that definitely benefited from the extended offseason. At least they’ll get it over with early in the season.
Overall Record for the Month: 3-1
Overall Record for the Season: 3-1
This is by far the easiest month for the Knicks. The first six games of the month are all against teams that didn’t have a winning record last season.
It will also be an easy month for the Knicks because they play the Charlotte Bobcats three times, twice in New York and once in Charlotte.
January 14, Knicks @ Thunder: Stopping Kevin Durant is a tough task for any team. We’ll see if Carmelo Anthony can rise to the challenge and go into Oklahoma City to outduel the young scoring champ.
January 21, Knicks vs. Nuggets: This is the first time 'Melo is playing the Nuggets since getting traded last season, so you know he'll be going all out for this game. It will also be a nice homecoming for former Knicks Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari
January 27, Knicks @ Heat: This will be the first time the Knicks play the Heat this season. You know this rivalry is only getting started.
Overall Record for the Month: 11-6
Overall Record for the Season: 14-7
This is another month full of nationally televised games for the Knicks. In fact, only seven of the 17 games this month will be on local MSG. The rest of the games will be played on ESPN, ABC, TNT or NBA TV.
February will really show if the Knicks are contenders or pretenders this year. They have their only back-to-back-to-back stretch of games this month, as well as many tough opponents, including both of last year’s NBA Finals teams.
February 2, Knicks vs. Bulls: The Knicks open the month with a very tough game against the reigning MVP. If they want to make it to a championship this season, they will need to go through Derrick Rose and the Bulls to do so.
February 17, Knicks vs. Hornets: This game will be the first time CP3 plays against his former team...let’s hope. If Paul is still on the Hornets at this point, hopefully a beatdown by the Knicks will convince him he wants to force a trade to New York to join his best friend, Carmelo Anthony.
February 19, Knicks vs. Mavericks: Going up against the defending champions is always a crucial game. If you can defeat the team that won it all the season prior, you prove to the rest of the league you are a serious threat.
Overall Record for the Month: 9-6
Overall Record for the Season: 23-13
The Knicks' hardest three-game stretch of the season has to be the first three games of March.
Playing on the road versus Boston, Dallas and San Antonio in consecutive games will really test the Knicks as a whole. It will take a total team effort to defeat these veteran teams.
March 3, Knicks @ Celtics: Going into Boston is always a hostile environment for the NYK. Beating the Celtics on the road is a must if the Knicks want to win a division title for the first time since 1994.
March 7, Knicks @ Spurs: The Spurs are always the most fundamentally sound team in the league. You know they will always bring their A-game, so the Knicks will have to put in maximum effort and use their youth and athleticism if they want to win this game.
March 17, Knicks @ Pacers: This is the second of back-to-back games the Knicks have against the Pacers. Last season, Indiana was the last team in the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, so winning both of these games proves the Knicks are toward the top half of the conference with the title contenders.
March 30, Knicks @ Hawks: For the past few seasons, the Hawks have been consistently in the middle of the pack for Eastern Conference playoff teams. If the Knicks want to even think about competing with the Bulls, Celtics and Heat to win the East, they need to get past Atlanta first.
Overall Record for the Month: 10-7
Overall Record for the Season: 33-20
April starts off rough, but the Knicks lucked out with their final five games of the season.
These last five games will be crucial for playoff positioning, so having four of them against teams that had under 35 wins last season will definitely be beneficial.
Unfortunately, four of those last five games are also on the road, but I’d still rather that over playing four contenders at home.
April 10, Knicks vs. Bulls: This is the second of two consecutive games between the Knicks and the Bulls. I expect both of these teams to be at the top of the Eastern Conference, so these two games will be critical to see who has an edge entering the playoffs.
April 15, Knicks vs. Heat: This is one of the few remaining tough games on the Knicks' schedule. We could potentially be watching an Eastern Conference Finals preview a few weeks before the playoffs start.
April 18, Knicks @ Nets: This will be the last time the Knicks ever play the Nets in New Jersey during the regular season before they move to Brooklyn. After this season, the ante will be upped as the teams will have to battle it out to see who the best team in New York is each year.
Overall Record for the Month: 7-6
Overall Record for the Season: 40-26
The Knicks will finish the season with a 40-26 record, which will be good enough for third in the conference. This will be a huge improvement for the Knicks, who only had 42 wins in a full season last year. This record can also be improved if the Knicks are able to pull off a trade for a third max-contract player, like they are currently trying to do.
Regardless, all Knicks fans should be extremely excited for this upcoming season, since the Knicks are finally back to being serious title contenders.