New York Knicks' Schedule Breakdown and Record Predictions for December
A difficult season will only get tougher.
Throughout the month of December, the New York Knicks will have their hands full with some of the league's more talented teams. With desperation already setting in for New York, a bleak season could quickly be lost if a fire isn't lit under the organization.
Could the franchise turn its fortunes around, or is this mountain too steep to climb?
Let's take a look at what's in store for the Knicks in the final month of 2014.
Week 1: 12/02-12/05
Most Notable Matchup: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks (Dec. 4)
Brooklyn will be fighting for pride and looking to take the season series to two games to none. Although the Knicks normally play hard against their crosstown rivals, their first matchup (Nov. 7) in this young season went Brooklyn's way. It isn't outlandish to think the Nets will have the Knicks' number in the rematch on Dec. 2.
New York's toughest and most notable challenger will be the LeBron James-led Cavs. Upsetting LeBron's homecoming on Oct. 30 will have serious ramifications moving forward. Cleveland is desperate to get on a tear, and James always brings everything he has to Madison Square Garden.
Carmelo Anthony will be prepared to go shot for shot with James, but it most likely won't be enough to get the win on Dec. 4. The Knicks will lose the rebounding war against Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, and Kyrie Irving will have his way with Iman Shumpert.
New York got lucky in the first bout, and the cards won't fall its way again.
The Knicks' lone victory should come against the Charlotte Hornets. Although Al Jefferson could potentially feast on New York's mediocre frontcourt, the Knicks should find a way to limit the production of his teammates and possibly stymie Kemba Walker and Lance Stephenson.
Weekly Record: 1-2
Week 2: 12/07-12/12
Most Notable Matchup: New York Knicks vs. San Antonio Spurs (Dec. 10)
Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge will combine for at least 40 points against New York. Anthony Davis will carry the Pelicans to a victory and come close to a triple-double in points, rebounds and blocks. The Brad Stevens-led Boston Celtics—New York's easiest opponent of the week—will likely steal one in a close game that comes down to the last few possessions.
New York's most notable matchup will be against the San Antonio Spurs, who will abuse the Knicks' poor defensive rotations and unbalanced closeouts. The Knicks defense struggles to stay level, and for the past three seasons, the franchise has failed to close out properly on the perimeter, leaving the team vulnerable to a pump fake and drive-by.
Head coach Gregg Popovich's finely tuned offense will leave the Knicks out of position and in a frenzy. Although New York isn't totally inept on the defensive end, the franchise is no match for great ball movement.
This will be an ugly game that will possibly break spirits and lead to a very underwhelming week for the Knicks.
Weekly Record: 0-4
Week 3: 12/14-12/20
Most Notable Matchup: New York Knicks vs. Chicago Bulls (Dec. 18)
In Week 3, the Knicks will face the Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks, Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. This very well could be another week the Knicks goes winless, but with their backs against the wall, they come out firing and steal two games.
The Knicks will beat the Raptors on a buzzer-beater from Anthony, and the Phoenix Suns will come out flat in the second half and allow New York to be in a groove for the rest of the game.
Head coach Rick Carlisle's Dallas Mavericks will likely blow New York out, with Dirk Nowitzki putting in a classic performance and Tyson Chandler returning to Defensive Player of the Year form to silence critics in the Big Apple.
The Chicago Bulls will be the premier matchup, given the history between the two organizations this offseason. Joakim Noah and his comrades will look to rough up Anthony and show No. 7 why he should have joined their talented roster instead of re-signing with the Knicks.
If Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol are healthy, New York has little chance to pull out the victory and even compete in this one. Head coach Derek Fisher will have his hands full with Tom Thibodeau's brilliant defensive schemes. Expect the triangle offense to look its ugliest and for the Knicks to get routed in disturbing fashion.
Weekly Record: 2-2
Week 4: 12/21-12/27
Most Notable Matchup: Washington Wizards vs. New York Knicks (Dec. 25)
Week 4 sees the Knicks go up against the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings.
After the Knicks stole one against the Raptors on Dec. 14, Toronto fires back with a blowout to prove its dominance in the Eastern Conference. New York will also struggle with the Kings, as Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins combine for at least 40 points.
The Knicks' lone victory will be a Christmas present against the Wizards. Somehow, the franchise will be ready to steal one on national TV.
Washington has played some excellent basketball this season, but the young team is vulnerable to losing focus. This will be one of those games where the Wizards do enough to defeat themselves and hand the game over to the Knicks. Anthony will need to score at least 30 points, and J.R. Smith will have to show the world how consistent he can be.
This matchup will be a fun up-and-down game that goes to the wire. After a few costly turnovers by the Wizards, the contest goes the Knicks' way. This could be a winless week, but New York will have its pride on the line on Christmas Day and will be dialed in to pull off the upset.
Weekly Record: 1-2
Week 5: 12/28-12/31
Most Notable Matchup: New York Knicks vs. Los Angeles Clippers (Dec. 31)
The final week of 2014 pits the Knicks against the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.
Portland will be a difficult matchup for New York, and it is likely to be an ugly game for Knicks fans. New York will struggle with Lillard and Aldridge again, and this outing could be decided before the second half begins.
The most notable matchup is the New Year's Eve extravaganza against LA's best team, the Clippers. The Doc Rivers-led franchise will be ready to end the year on a positive note. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will have their way with the Knicks, and DeAndre Jordan will add a double-double.
Although this is a premier game for New York and a must-win from a pride standpoint, the Knicks do not have enough talent and focus to compete with the Clippers. Expect Paul to score 20 points and dish out at least 10 assists, and Griffin will be no match for New York's mediocre big men.
This will be an ugly game that ends a disappointing 2014 campaign for Derek Fisher and his club.
Weekly Record: 0-2
Record for the Month: 4-12
It may seem pessimistic, but this franchise has a long way to go before it looks like a contender.
The Knicks flounder too often, only performing to their fullest for limited spurts when the organization needs to climb out of a self-inflicted abyss.
Turnovers have plagued the Knicks, giving opponents opportunities to pile on points that New York cannot afford to give away. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves (Nov. 19), the Knicks turned it over 23 times, and Minnesota scored 28 points off those turnovers. Against the Milwaukee Bucks (Nov. 18), it was a similar story with 12 turnovers and 17 points off those mistakes.
New York has shot itself in the foot entirely too often, and matters will only get worse if the trend continues.
Although on paper this Knicks team is better than its record reflects, the lack of focus and heart and the lackadaisical turnovers are making this journey much tougher than it needs to be. With a weak Eastern Conference, this is New York's best chance to make a run, but if the franchise can't be strong with the ball and piece together 48 solid minutes of hard-nosed basketball, this team will be competing for the No. 1 draft pick in 2015.