For this New York Knicks team, a surprising and fan satisfying team, small goals have seemed to keep them focused.
PRESEASON PREDICTIONS AND SCHEDULE
Before the season even began they were forced to have a laser sharp focus. Tom Thibodeau demanded it and if the team wanted to stay in it with a tough beginning to their schedule, their focus had to be pristine. The Knicks started the season 5-3, followed by a five game skids.
GETTING TO .500
After the skid, the Knicks next goal was to get back to .500. It took a while. In late February, during a 3-game win streak and a win over the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks made it to 18-18. The Knicks went into the All-Star break one game above .500.
PULLING ABOVE .500 | PUTTING TOGETHER A STREAK
The schedule wasn't kind to this team, or any team for that matter. After the All-Star break, the Knicks were said to have the toughest schedule in the league and many predicted their downfall. The Knicks stayed focused on small obtainable goals. Move more than one game above .500 and put together a winning streak longer than three. They had several three game winning streaks to this point. The Knicks responded by putting together a 9-game winning streak to move 7-games above .500 after surviving a brutal.
After battling teams like Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Miami, and Milwaukee and losing tight games down the stretch, the Knicks figured it out and learned how to win close games. They also clinched their first winning season since 2012.
THE WEST COAST TRIP
Then came the trip to the West Coast where they faced three of the top four teams and two playoff teams in the Western Conference. The went 3-3 and defeated the Los Angeles Clippers, proving they can compete with top NBA teams.
The Knicks had a chance to clinch a playoff birth by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. They came up a rebound short of winning in regulation and ended up losing in overtime.
CLINCHING A PLAYOFF BIRTH
So here we are with the Knicks sitting at 38-31, in a three-way tie with the Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Because they lost the season series to the Heat, the Knicks currently sit in the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. They are three games above the Boston Celtics who sit in the 7th seed.
Just one more win and the Knicks will clinch at least the 6th seed. It'll be their first playoff birth since 2012. The Knicks have three games to get it done. They play San Antonio, Charlotte and Boston. All three are battling to be in the play-in tournament.
Then it's on to a whole new set of goals.