The Knicks have as many games left as most people not named Jason Pierre-Paul have fingers on one hand. That’s both a bit sad and somewhat reassuring at the same time, seeing as the tailspin that started in January has been difficult to watch for a fanbase used to losing in recent years that was given a glimmer of hope by the Knicks’ .500 record at the midpoint of the season. All that’s left to be accomplished with this season now is to play potential spoiler to the Pacers, a team that we have every reason to despise. It was only three years ago that a young Pacers team upset Carmelo’s best Knicks team in Round 2 of the playoffs, and most of us remember those years in the 90s when Reggie Miller was the basketball equivalent of a hemorrhoid on the Knicks’ ass. Hell, Spike Lee helped make a 30 for 30 on his quasi-rivalry against Miller and the Pacers highlighting some of those dramatic playoff battles from the Ewing days.
The Pacers are 2 games ahead of the 9th place Bulls with 6 games left to play for each team, and the Knicks play Indiana twice in their last five games, starting with tonight’s game at MSG. I realize this franchise doesn’t exactly have a loving relationship with Chicago either, but it was a lot easier to accept losing to Jordan’s Bulls than it was to lose to Miller’s Pacers back in the day. This is a golden opportunity to end the Pacers’ season and have them searching for tee times in late April instead of gameplanning for the Cavs or Raptors.
I realize there’s not much to be excited about right now. Porzingis may sit the rest of the year out, and probably should. The Knicks do not have a first round draft pick to be optimistic about, so even praying for ping pong balls is out the window. It took the veterans themselves asking Rambis to play some of the young guys for Jerian Grant to get a start and some meaningful minutes, which we talked about ad nauseum in the comments of the game thread for the game at Dallas a few nights back (still didn’t get Get Cic or Die Tryin’ out of the starting lineup, which is so frustrating it’s become comical at this point). And most of the guys on this roster figure to be gone after this year or the next, so it’s tough to even try and become attached to what exists on the roster outside of the starting frontcourt. But hey, Cleanthony Early got some run against Brooklyn, and it was definitely awesome to see the kid come back from that extremely weird straight-out-of-a-gangster-movie robbery and gunshot to the knee. When I think back to that bizarre moment in the season, I remember thinking his career could be in jeopardy, so it’s been pretty great to see him be able to play before the season ends.
But we can get excited about potentially knocking the Pacers out of the playoffs. Indiana has been in a bit of a tailspin lately, losing games to Orlando and Brooklyn in their last five. They also play Cleveland and Toronto before playing New York again, so if we can beat them twice (ideally) or get a split, there’s a very real possibility that the Pacers end up joining the Knicks on the outside of the playoff picture in two weeks. I think that’s plenty of reason to be amped up for tonight’s game, because if there’s one thing I like more than being happy, it’s seeing people I don’t like being unhappy. And the Pacers are one giant amorphous blob of people I don’t like (although it’s tough not to be a fan of Paul George, I’ve got to admit).
So, in short, LET’S GO KNICKS! MAKE THE PACERS SHARE IN OUR COLLECTIVE MISERY!