The schedule will get more difficult for the Knicks as the season goes on, but this is a week - to steal a line from Pacers forward Danny Granger - when they play some “winnable games.”
It starts Tuesday night against the Raptors, one of two this week against Toronto. The Knicks also play in Philly on Wednesday and host the Pistons on Saturday.
But Tuesday night’s game should tell you a lot about where the Knicks are mentally, whether they truly have that sense of urgency they seemed to have discovered since Mike Woodson replaced Mike D’Antoni.
After three straight wins to start Woodson’s time on the bench, the Knicks are clinging to a half-game lead for the last spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They keep talking about how important these games are now, because of all the ones they lost early, the games they let slip away.
That’s why this could be a telltale game for them. If the Knicks win tonight it doesn’t mean they’re going to the Finals. But it will show where they are as a team.
We’ve seen it all year where the Knicks have been overconfident or complacent. They’ve lost games you think they should have won, including one to these very Raptors in The Garden. And it was almost two losses to these Raptors.
The Knicks were down 17 at Toronto on Valentine’s Day before making a late comeback and winning the game 90-87 on Jeremy Lin’s last-second three-pointer.
“It’s about what we do, how well we do it,” Woodson said about playing Toronto. “I respect every team that we play. I think [Dwane] Casey’s done a great job with his ballclub. It’s about what we do. That’s all I’m concerned with.”
The Knicks won’t have Baron Davis on Tuesday night. He’ll miss his second straight game with a strained right hamstring. Woodson is hoping he returns Wednesday in Philadelphia.
It means more minutes for Mike Bibby behind Lin.