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The Streak vs. The Curse: A Friday Night Showdown

Is this Knicks team simply too good for Robert Randolph and his black magic?


The New York Knicks - a basketball team many of you are familiar with - are riding a ten-game winning streak. If you go back into Knicks history, you'll find that such streaks never really happen by chance to mediocre squads:

Rk Team First Last Games
1 New York Knicks 1969-10-24 1969-11-28 18
2 New York Knicks 1994-03-01 1994-04-02 15
3 New York Knicks 1993-04-17 1993-11-16 12
4 New York Knicks 1969-01-25 1969-02-15 11
5 New York Knicks 1972-12-28 1973-01-16 11
6 New York Knicks 1968-12-17 1969-01-04 10
7 New York Knicks 2013-03-18 2013-04-03 10
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 4/5/2013.

There are five other Knick teams on that list - '68-'69, '69-'70, '72'-73, '92-'93, '93-'94 -and an argument could be made that they were the five best regular season teams in franchise history. Yeah, it's kind of a big deal.

Still, all good things must come to an end. Trust me on this, I'm an expert - two days ago I was eating lasagne and drinking wine on the banks of Venice's Grand Canal and now I'm typing with one hand an clutching an inhaler in the other to counteract the poisonous death vapor they call "air" here in Beijing. The Knicks will lose again - it's only a matter of when.

Tonight's game will go a long way to solving an age-old sports mystery - which is more destructive to a winning streak: opposing talent, or curses? For someone like me, who believes in the importance of advanced statistics, yet exhibits all the classic symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it's quite a pickle.

The Knicks will put their streak on the line against the Milwaukee Bucks, a textbook PTINO - Playoff Team in Name Only. They are a sub-.500 team clinging to the eighth seed thanks to conference quality imbalance. There's nothing to be ashamed of, Milwaukee - a few years ago, those sub-.500 playoff spots were the best case scenario for many a Knicks team - you're just not as good as this current Knicks squad...nowhere near as good, really. And you're playing in the Garden. And the Knicks don't lose anymore, in MSG or anywhere else, really. This shouldn't be much of a contest.

Still, I'm scared. The Knicks are banged up (though, when are they NOT banged up?). The Bucks aren't terrible. They have Monta Ellis, who could go off on any given night. They have Brandon Jennings, who is basically an all-around better Monta Ellis. They have defensive beast Larry Sanders. They have the Grandpappy of all OSKA's*, Mike Dunleavy.

* "Otherwise Scrub Knick Assassin"...yep, still trying to work it into common usage.

But if we're all being honest here, that's not the real reason I'm so terrified of this match-up. It's less a matter of the team on the opposing side as it is the date on the calendar. That's right - Friday Night Knicks. Doing it just to get there!

Should I really be worried? The Knicks have already won twice on Friday night during this streak. And, as crazy as it might sound to longtime Knicks fans, the team is one win away from doing the impossible - clinching a winning regular season record on Friday night:

They are sitting pretty at 8-6, so they've already managed to avoid a losing Friday night record, probably for the first time since the days of Dave DeBusschere. It seems likely that they can grab one of the last two Friday night games - either at home against the Bucks or next Friday against a lottery-focused Cavs squad. I know it shouldn't feel that impressive for a team sitting 20 games over .500 to win more games than it loses on a certain day, but it's another good sign in a season full of them.

So does this mean the Friday Night Knicks Curse is over? Not quite. An 8-6 record (57.1 Win%) is still below the Knicks' usual 64.9% winning percentage (HOLY SHIT IT'S APRIL AND THE KNICKS HAVE WON 65% OF THEIR GAMES!!1!11!1). The Curse has lost some of it's potency mostly due to the quality of Knick opponents - 9 of the 14 games have come against losing teams. Check out the split.

  • Knicks' Friday Night Record Vs. Sub-.500 Teams: 7-2
  • Knicks' Friday Night Record Vs. Over-.500 Teams: 1-4

That lone win came on the first game of the season, against it shouldn't really count, since everybody knows Miami is a scrub team that can't beat the Knicks to save their lives.

What does this all mean? It means that the 2012-13 Knicks have managed to cripple (but not quite kill) the dreaded Friday Night Knicks Curse; I guess you could say they kneecapped the Curse...if curses had knees, or really existed in the first place. Though wounded, the Curse still has the power to turn the Knicks into a good-but-not-great team that takes care of business against the dregs of the NBA lottery, but struggles to beat playoff talent. In other words, it turns the Knicks into the Brooklyn Nets.