MIAMI — The assertion was mocked, laughed at and dismissed.

In late September, on the primary day of coaching camp, RJ Barrett mentioned he felt the Knicks had the potential to “shock the world,” which drew derision contemplating their over-under for victories was 38.5. 

5 months later, the fourth-year wing isn’t trying so loopy.

The truth is, he appears downright prescient.

Reminded of that assertion he made, and given an opportunity for a victory lap, Barrett wasn’t able to say the Knicks have confirmed their detractors incorrect. 

“We haven’t accomplished something. We now have 18 video games left,” he mentioned following shootaround, earlier than the rampaging Knicks (38-27) beat the Warmth, 122-120, on a last-second 3-pointer by Julius Randle. “We’re actually simply fearful about getting this win.” 

The Knicks have been one of many greatest surprises within the NBA.

RJ Barrett isn’t getting forward of himself.

They had been only a recreation within the loss column behind the fourth-place Cavaliers within the Jap Convention getting into play Friday regardless of being picked to be a sub.-500 workforce that might be lucky simply to qualify for the play-in event.

Following a sluggish begin, they took off in early December after coach Tom Thibodeau lower his rotation right down to 9.

Since Dec. 4, they’re 27-14 over half the season and appear like a lock to succeed in the primary draw of the playoffs for the second time in three years. 

“We consider in one another. We consider in ourselves,” mentioned Barrett, who scored 17 factors within the win. “It doesn’t matter if individuals say we’re the perfect workforce within the league. We consider in us and who we’re and the work that we put in to go on that courtroom each evening.” 

A lot has gone proper for the Knicks, from well being to Randle’s bounce-back season to Jalen Brunson’s star flip.

A part of Barrett’s preseason confidence concerned Brunson. He may see in exercises what a distinction the purpose guard was going to make. 

RJ Barrett scores during the Knicks' win over the Heat on March 3.
RJ Barrett scores through the Knicks’ win over the Warmth on March 3.

“I watched him within the playoffs, too. he’s good,” Barrett mentioned. “We knew he was good and simply coming in, he’s helped a lot.” 

Thibodeau has repeatedly mentioned that a significant factor through the Knicks’ prolonged stretch of robust play has been the selfless nature of the workforce.

Gamers, Barrett included, have pushed their egos apart for the betterment of the group.

Barrett hadn’t been closing video games of late, changed by newcomer Josh Hart in these conditions, however he hasn’t publicly complained about it. He did shut out Friday’s Knicks’ win.

Nor have his teammates. Derrick Rose most well-liked to function a mentor than search a buyout.

Evan Fournier has been repeatedly praised for dealing with his demotion so effectively. 

“As a result of we need to win. It’s additionally a factor the place it’s important to put your satisfaction apart,” Barrett mentioned. “What’s higher than successful? When you win you get to go to the playoffs after which everyone eats off that. It’s not everyone has the perfect numbers, the perfect this, the perfect that. Individuals get into the All-Star Video games, get huge contracts by being a winner, being workforce man.” 

RJ Barrett drives to the basket during the Knicks' win over the Heat on March 3.
RJ Barrett drives to the basket through the Knicks’ win over the Warmth on March 3.

When requested particularly about his personal altering position, Barrett mentioned: “I simply play basketball. We’re successful, so I simply play basketball.” 

Successful, it appears, is all that issues to the Knicks.

Brunson has refused to even talk about the playoffs till they arrive.

And Barrett had little interest in bragging about his preseason prediction, both, or reminding the consultants how incorrect they acquired his workforce. 

“We actually don’t care actually,” he mentioned. “We now have a detailed, actually close-knit group. The fellows within the locker room, everyone [is just] working, making an attempt to be the perfect model of themselves, to place that along with the workforce. That’s actually what we care about.”