Hamilton: The Next Week Is Critical For Knicks

They’re fresh. And for an old team, that’s a blessing. As the season drags on and the games begin getting crunched together, we’ll learn more about the GeriatKnicks.

So far, their health and their depth simply hasn’t been tested.

But next week, the Knicks will go on a short three-game road trip in which they’ll play three games in four nights against the Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.

Between now and then, even if the Knicks manage to get to 5-0 by beating the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night and the Orlando Magic next Tuesday, respect will not be forthcoming from the rest of the league.

But when they travel to San Antonio on Nov. 15? And then play in Memphis the following night?

Those are the kinds of games that conference contenders should be capable of winning. So regardless of what happens against the Mavericks and the Magic, the Spurs and Grizzlies games are the ones that are circled on my calendar.

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In the meantime, Knicks fans are well within their right to be excited. The Knicks failing to live up to expectations has become the norm in the NBA, so beginning a season with three straight wins should be cause for excitement.

But until they go through a rough patch, win some tough games and rack up some frequent flier miles, I won’t be expecting anything more than I expected back when I told you that if Jason Kidd played well or if the frontcourt remained healthy that the Knicks should be a 50-win team.

What happens in November and December excites us, but it is long forgotten by April and May.

And if the Knicks manage to win Friday night’s game against the Mavericks, it will be the first time since 1993 that they opened up a season with four straight wins. That year, the Knicks won their first seven games and came within a single victory of defeating the Houston Rockets for the NBA Championship.

So despite winning their first seven games of the season that November, the Knicks lost their last game of the season in June.

At the very least, the rest of the NBA is on notice: the Knicks are playing well (ranked No. 1 in defense — 85.3 ppg), No. 1 in point differential (19.3), and No. 2 in 3-point accuracy (.453, trailing only the Mavs’ .485) and opponents know the days of walking into the Garden and walking out with a walkover are over.

Two others that should be watched very closely over the next week are Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace.

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