The Knicks are only a little over a month into the 2019-20 NBA season and already they are approaching a point of no return. Their line of demarcation is not .500, as they were well below that at 4-13 before meeting up with the Toronto Raptors in Canada last night (Wednesday).
Their measure is not falling unrealistically out of reach of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, the final playoff spot. That is seemingly their only hope to keep fans fully engaged after finishing with the worst record in the NBA at 17-65 last season and missing the postseason the previous six.
It will be an arduous climb for the Knicks from the bottom of the conference standings, where they began the week, to contending for the playoffs for much of this campaign. But their head coach David Fizdale believes it is possible.
“I actually do, just because of the character [of this team],” he said after the Knicks’ disheartening 103-101 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. It came less than 24 hours after a listless 111-104 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs at the Garden. The Spurs came into the game having lost eight straight.
“We were in mud. And they were a desperate team,” explained Fizdale on Saturday night after his team found themselves trailing by as many as 28 points to San Antonio. “So we got punched in the face and we dug a hole.”
The Knicks have been unable to string together strong efforts, an absolute necessity if they are going to slowly creep back to respectability in the standings. They have the affirming appearance of a team that underwent a massive roster overhaul during the summer and are still trying to establish and settle into their individual roles. Right now, their is no distinct pecking order and the sum undoubtedly equals the parts.
“We got 10 new guys,” said Knicks center Mitchell Robinson standing in front of his locker after fouling out in only 19 minutes against the Nets. Robinson, who was unmistakably bothered by some of the questionable foul calls that went against him, maintains he and his teammates are still in the process of finding cohesion.
“How can you get chemistry with 10 new guys you just met and you never played with these guys before?” Robinson rhetorically asked. “Think about when we do get that connection, we’re going to be alright.”
If and when that will happen is uncertain. But time is not on the Knicks’ side if losses continue to rapidly accumulate.