By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
We already knew that the Knicks would play 82 games this season, that they'd play each team in the Atlantic Division four times, and that they'd play each Western Conference team twice.
But when the schedule gets released, the upcoming season begins to take form. It shifts from the same thing that happens every year to a reality, in which we can picture the impact that those back-to-backs, rivalry games and west coast road trips will have on the fate of the team.
Now that the schedule hs been announced, it's time to take a deep dive into what it all means, by the numbers.
- The Knicks play each Eastern Conference team four times – twice at home and twice on the road, except: Detroit (three games – one at home, two on the road), Indiana (three games – two at home, one on the road), Orlando (three games – one at home, two on the road) and Washington (three games - two at home, one on the road). The Knicks play each Western Conference team two times – once on the road, once at home.
- The Knicks, Lakers and Heat tie for the league lead with 25 games apiece between ESPN, ABC and TNT. New York will also play at least an additional eight games on NBA TV, with the possibility for more depending on fan voting for NBA TV's Fan Nights.
- After opening the season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Knicks will fly to Chicago for a game the next night againt the Bulls. The Bucks made the playoffs last season but finished with a record of 38-44 and revamped the backcourt over the summer. The Bulls should have Derrick Rose back -- perhaps the most intriguing NBA storyline heading into this year -- and will have opened the season two nights earlier in Miami.
Where Brooklyn at?
- This year, the Knicks' matchups with the Nets will be spaced out a little more evenly than they were a season ago, when they played their fourth and final game against each other on January 21. Their first meeting this season will come on December 5 at Barclays Center, followed by a matchup on January 20 -- the Knicks' 15th straight year playing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. After that, they don't meet again until April 2 (at home) and April 15 (the second-to-last game of the season, possible playoff implications).
- The NBA gives its fans a fantastic Christmas present in the Knicks-Thunder matchup at Madison Square Garden. Last year, the two games between them were decided by six total points -- a 1-point loss at home without Carmelo Anthony and a 105-100 March win in OKC that might have been the Knicks' best performance of the season. Oh yeah, and we'll get to see the league's two best scorers -- Anthony (28.7 ppg) edged Kevin Durant (28.1) last year -- go at it.
- A Valentine's gift from the NBA that shows us how much they care: All-Star Weekend will take place in New Orleans from February 14-16. Knicks fans are no doubt rooting for Melo, Tyson Chandler and the rest of the team to give them an excuse to visit, enjoy the festivies, and eat po boys.
Streaks and Such
- The Knicks' longest homestand will last from January 17 (against the new and improved LA Clippers) to February 1 (against the defending-champion Heat). In between, they'll play Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Charlotte, the Lakers, Boston and Cleveland. Eight games in total, four against teams that made the playoffs last season.
- Their longest road trip will be five games (over the course of only seven days), from March 25-31. They'll start in LA against the Lakers, before heading to Sacramento, Phoenix, Golden State and finally Utah. Their 5-game Western Conference road trip last spring was undone by injuries, a heroic performance from Kurt Thomas against the Jazz necessary to salvage a 1-4 record; here's hoping for better fortune this time around.
- The Knicks will play 18 back-to-back games this year (down from 19 a season ago). Six of them will come against two playoff teams from last season and only three will involve two teams that both missed the postseason.
- The farthest trip in back-to-back games: Miami to NY (Feb. 27 & 28,) approx. 1,097 miles. The shortest trip in back-to-back games: Brooklyn to NY (Dec. 5 & 6 and Apr. 15 & 16) approx. 5½ miles.
- The Knicks play four games in five nights on four occasions and 11 games start before 6 p.m.