Saturday afternoon’s 125-109 win over the Miami Heat, less than 48 hours after a 38-point demolition of the defending champion Denver Nuggets, was more than the Knicks announcing themselves as the Eastern Conference’s top team and more than Jalen Brunson continuing to prove that he is one of the best guards in basketball.
As bittersweet as it was thanks to Randle’s early exit, Saturday’s win was a message to every team currently sitting above the Knicks (29-17) in the Eastern Conference standings.
New York is 12-2 since trading for OG Anunoby and you can’t say they’re getting fat on the subpar competition: Their victims include the Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, and Minnesota Timberwolves, all teams with championship aspirations. As the Heat froze in the new year, Saturday’s emphatic victory no doubt offered a hint of euphoria after Miami ended the Knicks’ championship dreams last season.
As explicit as they are, the recent victories could serve as an unspoken warning to the Knicks’ latest foe: the Boston Celtics.
If the standings remain the same as they are now… and assuming they each take care of business in the opening round… the Knicks and Celtics will meet in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the way things are going, there’s a very good chance the Knicks will not only hang with the Boston juggernaut but match up well enough to beat the Celtics in a seven-game series.