The NBA released its full 2013-2014 regular season schedule yesterday, and it promises an early home stretch for the Knicks.
Despite a season-opening back-to-back, at home against Milwaukee and in the United Center against Chicago, New York plays seven of its first 11 games in Madison Square Garden.
Just two of the Knicks first 13 opponents won more than 45 games last year. Those two teams were San Antonio and Indiana, and both will come to the Garden, where New York was 31-10 a year ago.
New York will play in 18 back-to-backs next season, one less than the previous season. They were 23-15 in those situations last year.
Four road trips of four or more games loom on the schedule. The first comes at the end of November, and it might be the toughest. The Knicks will play two teams who many expect to improve (Washington and Portland) and two teams who won 57 and 56 games last year (the Nuggets and the Clippers, respectively).
Their longest road stint is five games on the West Coast, spanning from March 25 to March 31. The Knicks were 23-18 on the road last year.
Looking for another 13-game win streak opportunity like the one from last March and April? The Knicks close January and open February with eight straight games in the Garden. From February 17 to March 12, they play 11 home games and just two road games. Opponents during that stretch include the Bobcats, Celtics, Cavaliers, 76ers and Kings.
Wedged in between all that, New York will begin year two against its revamped rivals in Brooklyn on December 5 at Barclays Center.
Jason LindWith all the roster moves in the NBA this offseason, particularly in the Knicks’ own division, using last year’s regular season as a gauge for this year does not make as much sense as it has in the past.
Last year the Knicks began their season 18-5, winning games by an average of over 12 points. As it turned out, 11 of those wins were against teams that missed the playoffs, and a few more came against slow starters or slumping teams like Milwaukee, Houston and the Lakers.
The Knicks first month of basketball this season looks similarly manageable, but includes matchups with Chicago, Houston and Minnesota. Due to new acquisitions and players returning from injury, all three may perform much better than they did last year.
Within the division, Boston looks its least formidable since the pre-KG and Ray Allen era. The Nets want to compete with the Heat, while the 76ers traded away an All-Star point guard from a 34-48 team. A lot has changed around the Knicks, so don’t expect another season like the previous one.
Jason is an intern at SNY this summer.