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Preview of the Knicks’ upcoming week, Feb 11-17.

Knicks look to build momentum heading into the All-Star break.

Orlando Magic v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Three road games heading into the All-Star break, all on the road. With two winnable and one toughie, a 2-1 finish to the ‘first half’ (but really it’s two-thirds) of the season seems doable. Let’s look at the schedule.

[Editor’s Note: Russell was asleep at the wheel on this one, misreading Thursday as THIS Thursday for the Philly game. He pleads Super Bowl.]

New York Knicks at Houston Rockets, Monday, 8 PM, Feb. 12, 2024, MSG TV

The Houston Rockets (23-29) have won four of their last 15 games. Houston’s defense is sticky but their offense is bricky, as evidenced by their previous encounter with the Knicks, when Houston made eight of 30 three-point attempts. New York steamrolled in the second half and won that game, 109-94, back on January 17. Remember January? Good times.

After winning nine straight and having their greatest January in decades, New York has lost three of their last four games due to an onslaught of injuries. Houston, too, could be down a few players for Monday’s tilt. Their Alperen Şengün (Back), Fred VanVleet (Adductor), and Cam Whitmore (Ankle) are all listed as day-to-day on the most recent injury report. Terrific. hat will help level the competition with Julius Randle, OG Anunoby, and Mitchell Robinson out for New York and Isaiah Hartenstein listed as questionable.

Winnable game on the road.

New York Knicks at Orlando Magic, Wednesday, 7 PM, Feb. 14, 2024, MSG TV

New York has lost twice to the upstart Orlando Magic (29-24) this season, 117-108 and 98-94. In the most recent game, Paolo Banchero led the victors with 20 points, and Wendell Carter, Jr added 17 from the bench. Starting at point guard for New York, Miles McBride scored 20 points on 8-of-17 field goal attempts.

The Magic have won six of their last ten games. They are a top-five defense but a bottom-tier offense. Last season’s Rookie of the Year, Banchero remains consistent as the Magic inch closer to last season’s win tally of 34. They are five short with 29 games to go. With the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, Orlando is neck-and-neck for the sixth, seventh, and eighth seeds of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. On Wednesday, they’ll be a tough opponent for the Knickerbockers, with Banchero growing more dominant and New York’s frontcourt depleted.

New York Knicks at Philadelphia 76ers, Thursday, 7:30 PM, Feb. 22, 2024, MSG TV

The Knicks won against the Philadelphia 76ers (31-21), 128 to 92, in their first matchup on January 5. The Sixers shot 26% from deep in that one, while New York hit 44%. Joel Embiid led all scorers with 30 points in a losing effort. Jalen Brunson topped the Knicks with 29.

What a difference an injury can make. While Embiid is off having his knee repaired, the Sixers are reeling. As of this writing, they have won just two of their last ten tilts, although the newly acquired Buddy Hield should help them improve on the offensive end. It will be the second game of a back-to-back, but a stumbling Philly team should be a fair challenge for a shorthanded Knicks squad.

This will be our heroes’ last engagement before the All-Star break. It will be nice to send our New York delegates—Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Slam Dunker Jacob Toppin!—off to Indianapolis with a win. (Also, does Randle go, even if he’s injured? Seems like he should send a Thank You card and stay home to rest, right?)

Go Knicks!