Basketball is a game of runs. In an 82 game season, 14 games certainly don’t tell a complete story. But in these last 14 games, the New York Knicks are a remarkable 11-3, and are now tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
Small sample size? A valid argument, especially considering what happened during those three losses. One was a complete collapse against an average at best Cleveland Cavaliers team. The other two were blowout losses to two teams out west.
But the winning streak has had its impressive highs as well; wins against the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors standout. Tonight was another impressive victory, a dominant win against the Brooklyn Nets.
Iman Shumpert stole the show, literally. He had five steals, four before halftime, and chipped in an efficient 10 points with two assists and three rebounds. More importantly, his dominant defense set the tone for the game, and helped him finish with a sparkling +29. The only player with a better number was Tim Hardaway Jr., who finished +33; Hardaway has been unreal for the Knicks this season. He wasn’t even supposed to play tonight, and finished with 17 points, shooting 70 percent from the field.
The Knicks were not built to be dominant. Even last year, they were a streaky team; it happens when you’re a team full of shooters. But this has been their best stretch of the season by far. They are getting contributions up and down the roster, and are making a real run at a playoff spot — an achievement that seemed borderline laughable even a month ago.
In a season that can best be described as a nightmare, the Knicks are playing their best ball at the right time. As surprising as that sounds, it might even lead to a playoff spot.