Knicks’ schedule is out: Christmas starts a stretch of brutal tests

Last season, the Knicks’ campaign went in the tank right after Christmas. Their holiday present this season is a grueling stretch that could sink them yet again.

The Knicks, despite being without star Kristaps Porzingis indefinitely due to ACL surgery, will still get an NBA-record 53rd Christmas Day game. This one will be a nationally televised affair in Milwaukee. The Bucks are the team against which Porzingis got hurt in the first place.

Whether that’s a sign the Knicks and ESPN are hopeful the 7-foot-3 Latvian unicorn will be back by then, it’s clear that it starts a daunting stretch that could send them off the rails.

That noon game tips off a stretch of 12 games in which the Knicks will face 10 foes that made the playoffs last season. The two that missed? Jan. 1 at Denver and three days later at the Lakers. But the Lakers added LeBron James and are projected to be a Western Conference contender, with the Nuggets close behind.

There isn’t a single easy game in that stretch. It includes the defending NBA champion Warriors, the 76ers’ rising stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz, and wraps up against the Rockets, who added familiar face Carmelo Anthony to a team that went an NBA-best 65-17.

The rival Nets will be waiting as a trap game when that brutal run ends on Jan. 25. That stretch will be tough even if Porzingis has returned by then. But in the likelihood he hasn’t? It could be a killer.

Even including their Christmas Day game against the Bucks and the Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Knicks still have only a modest five national TV games on ABC, ESPN or TNT, after having 22 just two seasons ago.

Games to watch

Nov. 25 at Grizzlies: New Knicks coach David Fizdale makes his return to Memphis, where he was fired after just 19 games last season. His benching of Marc Gasol in a loss to the Nets was followed almost immediately by his dismissal. How awkward will their reunion be?

Oct. 20 vs. Celtics: Prospective 2019 free-agent target Kyrie Irving comes to the Garden in just the second home game of the season. Expect lots of signs, banners, thirsty fans and a story that just won’t die all the way into the summer.

March 17 vs. Lakers: LeBron James will make his only Garden appearance fashionably late, gracing the MSG crowd with his royal presence in a noon game on St. Patrick’s Day. Will Enes Kanter still be trolling him?

Source: Read Full Article