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The next 11 games could make or break the Knicks' playoff hopes

Ugh. The schedule.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks' Monday night loss to the Orlando Magic was a bad omen for trend-spotters. This club tends to binge on both victories and defeats; New York hasn't followed up a lone loss with a win since the second and third games of the season.

The far more concerning trend, however, is their inability to beat good Eastern Conference teams. Yes, the Knicks beat Chicago last Saturday -- and a win against the Bulls is always something to savor -- but that club is kind of a mess right now. Hell, they lost to the Nets Monday night ... at home. Looking back further, their last win against a quality Eastern Conference foe came Nov. 17 against Charlotte.

New York has been taking care of business against the dregs of the NBA, with a 9-4 record against team under .500; unfortunately, they won't see many of those clubs over the next few weeks:

Nine of the Knicks' next 11 games are against teams currently in the top 8 in the East. The only non-contender -- Milwaukee -- has handed New York two of their four defeats against sub-.500 teams. Oh, and they also face the Spurs in San Antonio. That'll make for a relaxing vacation!

If the Knicks are going to remain at or near the .500 mark, they must play at a higher level than they have all season. Maybe they can do it! They've already given us several pleasant surprises. Staying in the playoff race at the end of this gauntlet would be the most pleasant surprise of all.