When you think of “March Madness,” you think about college basketball. Filling out an NCAA tournament bracket is the symbolism for the term. In 2013, with all the parody around college basketball, it is expected that this year’s tournament will truly be the definition of “March Madness.”
But if you look at the New York Knicks March schedule, you would actually think that the term “March Madness” was coined for them. With 18 games over the 31 day month including a five game road trip to the west coast and six back to backs, the Knicks will be truly tested during March and may make or break where they are seeded in the playoffs.
The Knicks got off to a good start to the month with a 96-88 victory over the Wizards on Friday night. However, that is a game they could not afford to lose. They jump back at it with a home game against the Heat on Sunday, who are playing just as hot as their name indicates. Miami has won 13 in a row and will be looking for revenge against the Knicks who have taken the first two meetings by 20 points apiece.
If I had to guess, I would think that Lebron James would not let this happen again; especially at Madison Square Garden where opposing players need just the slightest motivation to go off.
They then have two games that they must win, but both will surely not be cake walks as they travel to Cleveland and Detroit on Monday and Wednesday respectively. After the Detroit game, they hit their second back to back of the week when they take on the Thunder at home.
The following week starts their five game west coast road trip where they play four teams that are currently in the Western Conference playoff picture. Portland is the one non playoff team that they play during that stretch, but they are only four games out of the 8th spot (they’ve also beaten the Knicks already on New Year’s Day).
After the stretch, they get a few games against lighter competition, but they finish the month with two more sets of back to back games including a home & home with Toronto. They play at Boston and home against Memphis on consecutive nights and end the month home against Boston.
So what does this rough month mean to the Knicks? It will have everything to do with their seeding position for the playoffs. Entering Sunday, they were barely holding on to the second seed over Indiana. Both teams are 6.5 games back of Miami, and are only three games ahead of Atlanta and Brooklyn.
The Knicks need to be wary of Brooklyn because if Brooklyn goes on a hot streak (they have been one of the streakiest teams in the NBA this year), they could beat the Knicks out for the Atlantic Conference lead and New York could drop all the way to the fifth or sixth spot in the Eastern Conference.
With one bad month, the Knicks can go from almost the top, to losing home court advantage in the playoffs.
That being said, if the Knicks can survive this month, it will put them in a great position for the playoffs. Playing quality opponents this late in the season can be great if your team can win the tough games.
If they survive their “March Madness,” it will also get them ready for a brutal April where they have to play at Miami, at Oklahoma City, at Chicago and two games against Atlanta.
I could have written something about the “April Madness” that the Knicks will be up against, but let’s be honest; that is nowhere near as catchy as the whole “March Madness” thing.
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