What’s going on with the Knicks this year? After two dominant performances after losing nine straight, they get pummeled at home by 41 points. This is not against the Big Three Celtics (of either the Larry Bird/Robert Parish/Kevin McHale or Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen variety), it is against a freshly-overhauled team that tossed its aging veterans for youth and future draft picks. Granted, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, and Jordan Crawford are playing well, but at this stage of their careers, they are not exactly the new Big Three.
Nonetheless, with a fifth of the season in the books the “rebuilding” Celtics remain atop the NBA’s Atlantic Division, while the Knicks and their struggling compadres across the (East) river, the Brooklyn Nets vie for last place.
To be clear, the Celtics are by no means a legitimate threat to anyone. In beating the Knicks, they remain a subpar 10-12, although that’s good enough to lead the division by two games! To put things in perspective, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat continue to dominate the East, with records of 18-2 and 15-5, respectively, through their first 20 games. The remaining five of the Eastern Conference’s top eight teams sported records ranging from 11-10 to 8-10. If the playoffs were held today, five of the East’s playoff teams would have losing records.
The situation in the Western Conference is far more normal, with the lowest playoff-eligible team, the Golden State Warriors, at 12-9, which would have given them the third-best spot in the East, if California were situated east of the Mississippi.
There’s a long way to go to 82 games, but it’s been a bizarre season thus far. Stay tuned!