February in the NBA tends to be an interesting time with All-Star weekend and the trade deadline headlining the month. But for the Knicks, it’ll be an important and intriguing one for an additional reason: the absence of Julius Randle. The Knicks’ star power forward will seemingly be out for the foreseeable future which has led to many questions going forward. Who will step up for the Knicks? How will Jalen Brunson play in Randle’s absence? Will they make any moves? And most importantly, how will the Knicks fare going forward? While we don’t have all the answers, we take our best stab at predicting how the Knicks will perform in February.
2/1 vs. Indiana-W
The Pacers are currently 27-20 and are getting Tyrese Halliburton back so it will likely be a difficult game. That being said, they are just 5-5 in their last 10 games. If the Knicks have OG Anunoby back for this one, they should have enough to edge out what should be a high-scoring affair against an Indiana team that is just three games behind them.
2/3 vs. Los Angeles-W
It’s difficult to bet against LeBron James, especially in his lone game at Madison Square Garden but the Lakers have been a mediocre .500 team for much of the season and are just 7-16 on the road this season. I fully expect James to have a big game but New York should have enough defense and outside shooting to outgun the Lakers at home.
2/6 vs. Memphis-W
New York, despite being 19-0 against teams under .500 this season, does tend to play down to competition, especially when the opposing team is missing their key players. Such was the case when New York faced off against Memphis a couple of weeks ago. Memphis will likely keep this game close once again with their defense and grit but New York, coming off of two days rest at home, should be able to pull off what will likely be a very ugly win.
2/8 vs. Dallas-L
New York just seems to just struggle against Dallas. Last year, the Knicks lost a heartbreaker as Luka Doncic posted a 60-point triple-double against them, and earlier this month, they dropped a game to a Doncic-less Mavericks team led by Kyrie Irving. I think the Knicks keep this one close but ultimately fall short.
2/10 vs. Indiana-L
Is this where the panic settles in? It’s always hard to beat teams back-to-back times when you see them twice over a short span and Indiana, by this point, will likely have more synergy built up between Halliburton and Pascal Siakam. It should be a close one but Indiana takes this one late.
2/12 at Houston-W
Houston is another team that, like the Grizzlies, can much up the game a bit and keep it close. But I see New York being able to improve on their record against .500 teams with a win on the road to get back in the win column.
2/14 at Orlando-W
Orlando has beaten the Knicks twice already this season so we know this is a very losable game. That being said, I just can’t see this Magic team, who have been devastated by injuries this season, beating the Knicks for the third straight time. Knicks win in a defensive slugfest.
2/22 at Philadelphia-L
If things continue to go the way that they have been going, this could be a crucial matchup with significant seeding implications. New York has shown that they can beat Philadelphia, and do so comfortably, but as we’re writing this Randle is out, and Isaiah Hartenstein still doesn’t seem to be 100%, making this a different game. I expect Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey to come out aggressive after losing big to the Knicks in their last matchup, leading to what could be a double-digit loss.
2/24 vs. Boston-L
New York has struggled against Boston this season and with injuries to Mitchell Robinson, Randle, and Hartenstein, I don’t see this game going well. Anunoby should help slow down the likes of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown a bit, but their overall offensive firepower and ability to stick Tatum, Derrick White, or Jrue Holiday on Brunson will make this a very difficult game for the Knicks.
2/26 vs. Detroit-W
The Pistons have actually been better than their record suggests as of late as they’ve beaten the Thunder and played the Bucks very closely in back-to-back games. That being said, this team is still 6-40 for a reason. Knicks get back to their winning ways with a dominating win at home.
2/27 vs. New Orleans-W
This one might have been the most difficult to call. The Pelicans are an eighth seed but are a solid 26-21. That being said, they are just 12-11 on the road and 4-6 in their last 10 games. New York will be on the second night of a back-to-back, but if they can defeat the Pistons handily, their starters may be relatively well-rested. The Knicks, who are currently 16-5 at home, secure a victory in what could be a nail-biter.
2/29 vs. Golden State-W
The Warriors spent much of the 2010’s being the gold standard for excellence and success but those days are behind us. Golden State is currently 19-24 and just 7-11 on the road. Steph Curry, like always, will be a threat to have a big game, but they just lack the supporting cast and depth needed at the moment. If New York’s defense can hold everyone else in check and survive the Curry experience, they should be able to end the month on a positive note with another victory.
This puts the Knicks’ record at 8-4 on the month, which should be good enough to keep them hovering around the third to fifth seed, but it could get dicey. Philadelphia, led by MVP favorite, Joel Embiid, is capable of going on a long winning streak at any point, and Cleveland has been just as hot as New York has been in January. And, while doable, the Knicks are relying on a lot of things to happen. Brunson must continue playing at an MVP level, DiVicenzo has to continue his incredibly hot shooting, the bench unit needs to hold its own, and nobody else can get injured. If they can somehow manage to have all of those things happen, they should be able to navigate a February that thankfully has the built-in All-Star weekend, along with a schedule that features a lot of home games.