Last night's 46 point loss to Cleveland was an example of a severely weakened team running into a monstrous opponent, thus forming a perfect storm of suck. After gutting through a couple games, and even nearly robbing the Blazers in New York, the Knicks completely broke down. They've got some excuses, though. Chris Duhon's been playing league-leading minutes on a sore back and a tender ankle, and it finally caught up to him (incidentally, the same day I procured for him the most beautiful of serenades, that ungrateful punk). The 6'9'' (on a good day) David Lee is essentially playing both frontcourt positions while the rest of the "big men" are injured or chilling on the perimeter. Against Cleveland's 7-footers, Lee just can't hang. The team as a whole has played eight deep, and that includes Malik Rose and Anthony Roberson getting meaningful time. The garbage lineup includes multiple starters. Assistant coaches are needed to fill out practice scrimmages. The Knicks are thin at every position and running on fumes against top-tier teams, so it's hard to blame them.
Starting Friday, those excuses will run out. Tomorrow begins a 5-game stretch that could keep the Knicks afloat or put them under for good.
At least they'll be dealt a better hand. Nate Robinson and Jared Jeffries are expected to return by this weekend, providing some reinforcement off the bench, while Cuttino Mobley's potential retirement might open a spot for a healthy body pretty soon. Furthermore, outside of the Pistons, the upcoming opponents range from terrible to beatable. The Knicks have a decent opportunity to win 3 or 4 of their next 5, and they'll need to do just that. Heading into Mike D'Antoni's 12/15 return to Phoenix and an unfortunate visit with the Lakers the very next evening, New York's gotta still be somewhere around .500. If not, the Knicks may return at Christmas several games under. If you've been around here long enough, you know that falling that far may very well put the season beyond repair.
This season currently hangs in the balance, but we'll have a much clearer sense of our fate within the upcoming weeks. Either the Knicks hang on tight, or we'll have another trip to the lottery all but locked up by New Year's. Anything, my friends, can happen.