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Schmeelk: A Look At What Knicks' Schedule Has In Store For Them

John Schmeelk
August 13, 2019 - 12:55 pm
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The Knicks’ 2019-20 schedule has been released. Here are some highlights for fans and what the Knicks have ahead of them.

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1. Balance

Unlike the past couple of seasons, the Knicks do not have the same type of long stretches at home or away from Madison Square Garden. Their longest road trip is just four games, which happens twice. The first is a West Coast trip starting Dec. 10 at Portland, a game the next day at Golden State and then games at Sacramento and Denver to close the trip. Their second road trip comes Jan. 3-8 with games at Phoenix, the Clippers, and then a back-to-back with the Lakers and Jazz to close the trip.

The team’s longest homestand starts Feb. 29 against the Bulls and continues with home dates against the Rockets, Jazz, Thunder and Pistons. Other than October, when the Knicks play only five games, in no other month do they play fewer than four home games or four road games. The Knicks start their season in San Antonio on Oct. 23.

2. Bah Humbug!

The NBA decided against putting the Knicks on Christmas for the first time since 2015 and just the second time since 2008. They do maintain their traditional spot playing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but they will play on the road in Cleveland at 5 p.m. instead of at home in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will also play on New Year’s Day, hosting the Portland Trail Blazers at 7:30 p.m.

3. Not-So-National TV

According to CBS Sports' Jared Dubin, the Knicks only have six national TV games, with one on ESPN, two on TNT and three on NBA TV, tied for the 22nd most in the league. Only five teams -- the Hornets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Grizzlies and Wizards have fewer. The Knicks have no games on ABC. Only nine teams play games on ABC during the season: the Celtics, Warriors, Rockets, Clippers, Bucks, Pelicans, Sixers and Trail Blazers.

Based on the over/under numbers in Las Vegas, the Knicks have the 18th toughest schedule, with opponents fielding a projected winning percentage of .502. The schedule makers, trying to limit back-to-backs across the league, have given the Knicks only 13 back-to-backs. They had 15 last season. Six of those have both games on the road, with only one having both games at Madison Square Garden.

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4. The Rivalries

The NBA set up the Knicks with their rivals early in the season.

Boston Celtics: The Knicks open their home schedule against the Celtics on Oct. 26, and then play them just six days later in Boston on Nov. 1. They host the Celtics on Dec. 1 and then visit Boston on March 18.

Brooklyn Nets: In what is simmering as a real potential rivalry (if the Knicks become a good team anytime soon), the Knicks visit Brooklyn in their second game of the season Oct. 25. Their other matchups are about a month apart, with games at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 24 and Jan. 26 and another game in Brooklyn on Dec. 26. Given all four of those games come in the season’s first four months, the chances the Knicks see Kevin Durant is minuscule.

Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks? Nope. Kristaps Porzingis. The NBA schedule makers send the Knicks to Dallas on Nov. 8, and then they welcome in Porzingis to the Garden on Nov. 14. I’m not quite sure Porzingis will be ready for the venom most Knicks fans feel for him after demanding a trade last season. It’s going to be ugly. Very ugly.

LeBron James makes his lone visit to the Garden on Jan. 22. The Warriors visit March 21, perhaps after Klay Thompson is back from his knee injury. The Rockets come in March 2, and the Clippers on March 23. Of the top Eastern Conference teams, the Knicks host the 76ers on Nov. 29 and Jan. 18, and the Bucks on Dec. 21.

5. The Toughest Stretch

Despite not having any very long road stretches, the Knicks have a span of 14 games starting Nov. 20 when they play at Philadelphia, host the Spurs and Nets, visit Toronto, host the Sixers and Celtics, visit the Bucks, host the Nuggets and Pacers and then play four straight on the road against the Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Nuggets. All of those teams, spare the Kings, were playoff teams last season.

It is a brutal stretch. The Knicks will need to start fast and survive this gauntlet to have any hope of making some kind of realistic playoff run for the eighth seed. It’s possible that run of games could end any hopes for a significant Knicks season.

You can follow John on Twitter at @Schmeelk for coverage of the Knicks, Giants and all of New York sports. Check out "The Bank Shot," his Knicks podcast, which you can subscribe to on all your favorite podcast platforms.