How the Knicks grew to become the NBA’s greatest highway group
Isaiah Hartenstein and Josh Hart weren’t with the Knicks earlier than this season, so the truth that the franchise has posted just one successful highway document within the earlier 25 years didn’t actually register with two aptly named gamers who’ve been offering the group a heartbeat off the bench.
“Oh sh-t. Hopefully we are able to hold enjoying properly on the highway and make it two,” Hart joked after Tuesday’s house loss to the Hornets, his first defeat in 10 video games with the Knicks since his arrival final month.
Certainly, the Knicks’ 20-12 highway document this season is tied with the Celtics and the Bucks for essentially the most wins and the most effective successful proportion (.625) within the league.
They’ve received 5 of six away from MSG because the begin of February, together with important wins in Miami and Boston this previous weekend. The double-overtime victory over the Celtics was their second OT win at TD Backyard this season.
The following 4 video games, starting Thursday night time in Sacramento in opposition to the rising Kings, ought to current a stern take a look at. Tom Thibodeau’s group additionally will play two video games in Los Angeles on back-to-back days this weekend and go to Portland to face Hart’s former group, the Path Blazers, on Tuesday.
“I feel on the highway, it’s simply in regards to the guys. I feel that’s the most important factor,” Hart instructed Sports activities+. “You don’t have as many distractions as there are at house, and I feel on the highway, that’s a bonus.
“I feel we’ve proven we’re unselfish and play collectively, and that’s a giant a part of it. Clearly, we all know any highway sport is all the time robust, so we’ve been locked in. and that’s most likely the most important factor.”
Following their loss to the 76ers on Feb. 10, the Knicks had the second-hardest remaining energy of schedule, in accordance with Tankathon. Ten video games and 9 wins later, they enter this western trek with a remaining opponents’ successful proportion of .495, the 18th hardest within the league going into Wednesday night time.
9 of their remaining 15 video games will probably be on the highway, with further away video games in Miami, Orlando, Cleveland, Indiana and New Orleans.
“I feel usually we do an excellent job of being ready, simply coming in every sport making an attempt to be the extra ready group,” Hartenstein mentioned. “I feel up to now we’ve bought an excellent bond, everybody desires everybody to succeed. That goes a good distance, particularly whenever you’re in a harder scenario, on the highway.
“We’ve had numerous robust video games, particularly the 2 instances in Boston after we needed to battle it out collectively. Miami, the identical factor. So I feel pulling out these shut video games on the highway in opposition to good groups are going to assist us down the stretch, simply from the purpose of with the ability to belief one another.
“There actually aren’t many egos, simply making an attempt to win. Particularly in an extended season, these lengthy highway journeys convey guys collectively. … I feel Thibs has finished an excellent job of creating positive everyone seems to be all the time targeted and dialed in to what now we have to do.”
That success additionally doubtlessly bodes properly if the Knicks fail to safe home-court benefit within the playoffs — in a possible 4-5 matchup with the Cavaliers, who lead the Knicks by 2.5 video games, or fall to the No. 6 place.
“For positive,” mentioned Hart, who has by no means appeared in a postseason sport in six NBA seasons. “We need to make certain every thing is a chance to study and to develop, and clearly highway video games present that. If on the finish of the yr we’re lucky sufficient to be within the playoffs, I feel these highway wins solely will assist us.”
Just a few different Knicks felt the group’s success away from house revealed a little bit of what makes this specific group tick.
“[W]e have numerous mentally robust guys, guys with a chip on their shoulder,” Immanuel Quickley mentioned after the loss to Charlotte. “After which now we have simply nice particular person individuals. It takes character to win on the highway, it takes toughness to win on the highway. And I feel now we have that. So whether or not we’re up or down, we all know learn how to deal with that. And I feel it reveals after we’re on the highway.”
Added RJ Barrett: “I feel what makes us profitable is after we go on the highway, we don’t actually change an excessive amount of [in terms of our] preparation and stuff like that. Guys are actually locked in, and now we have a group of fellows that come prepared day-after-day and put the work in and are actually targeted on basketball, making an attempt to win these video games.”
The final Knicks group — and the one one previously quarter-century to submit a successful document on the highway — was Mike Woodson’s 54-win squad of 2012-13, which went 23-18 away from MSG. That ended a 15-year string of shedding seasons on the highway because the Knicks went 26-15 in 1996-97, the final of a six-year stretch during which they compiled a 142-104 (.577) highway document.
The franchise document for highway wins (together with neutral-site video games) in a single season was a 30-11 mark away from MSG throughout the Knicks’ 1969-70 championship season.
Tom Thibodeau’s balancing act
One leftover from my interview with former Knicks coach and longtime ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy final week was this thought on Thibodeau’s determination earlier this season to bench well-paid veterans Evan Fournier and Derrick Rose and the skilled method during which each dealt with the scenario.
“I give these guys a ton of credit score. Fournier actually may have been a poison tablet, however he hasn’t been. And he had that sport when he went again in and hit seven 3s or no matter it was,” Van Gundy mentioned, referring to Fournier’s 17-point effort with 5 3-pointers in a win over the Sixers on Feb. 5.
“And I do know Tom loves Derrick Rose, and going to 9 males and taking him out of the rotation, I feel, was clearly painful for Rose, however excruciating for Tom.
“However it additionally reveals that he understands the burdens and tasks of being a head coach. And that’s making selections in the most effective curiosity of the group. You’ve gotta put the group forward of every thing else. And that’s Tom.”
Can the Knicks blaze a brand new path out west?
The West Coast has been something however a welcome getaway for the Knicks over the previous two decades-plus. Simply check out their data on the market because the starting of the 2001-02 season:
at Clippers: 4-16 (DNP in L.A. in ’11-12 on account of lockout)
at Kings: 8-13
at Lakers: 6-15
at Sonics: 3-4 (franchise moved to Oklahoma Metropolis in 2008)
at Path Blazers: 3-17
at Warriors: 5-16 (DNP in ’19-20 on account of COVID)
Portland is the worst stopover of the bunch, and the Knicks have been particularly woeful there lately.
Of their previous 10 visits to Rose Metropolis, the Knicks have received a grand whole of…as soon as.
On December 12, 2015, Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 37 factors in a 112-110 victory.
It’s a heck of a field rating to revisit — Arron Afflalo! Robin Lopez! Kyle O’Quinn!:
Since then, the Knicks have misplaced six straight in Portland by a median of 15 factors.