By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
A 4-0 start for the Knicks included a home game against the Miami Heat, a home-and-home with the Philadelphia 76ers and another date at Madison Square Garden with the Dallas Mavericks. Additionally, the Knicks closed the preseason at the Sixers and against the Brooklyn Nets at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum.
Long story short, there hasn’t been much traveling for this team since late October, but that is about to change.
The Knicks, the NBA’s last unbeaten and the league’s top defensive team, will finally hit the road beginning Tuesday at the Orlando Magic. That matchup will kick start a string of three road games in four nights, while six of the Knicks’ next seven games are on the road after they’ve spent the better part of the last month close to or at home.
“We’ve had four good games and now we have to go see what we’re made of on the road,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said after practice at the MSG Training Center on Monday afternoon. “Road wins are tough to get, so you really gotta be focused and locked in as a unit. We can’t turn it over offensively and defensively, you have to play at a high level. All those things have to happen for us to be successful on the road.”
While the Magic (2-4) will begin this three-game road trip, the intriguing part of the trip sits at the end of the week when the Knicks play a back-to-back at the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday and the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.
The Spurs and Grizzlies currently sit 1-2 in the Northwest Division, are a combined 11-2 on the season and both were projected in the preseason by many as top 4 teams in the Western Conference.
“Anytime you’re on the road, it’s always a challenge, regardless of who you’re playing,” Carmelo Anthony said. The first game is Orlando, that’s our focus and we’ll take it one game at a time.”
What the Knicks have been doing is playing sterling defense, giving up an NBA-best 87.5 points per game over their first four contests. Offensively, they rank second in both points per game (104.5) and 3-point percentage (43.6). All those points and that gaudy mark from deep are thanks to a renewed effort to share the ball and get quality shots. They rank eighth in the NBA in field goal percentage at 45.3 percent.
“This is our first real road road trip, we’re gonna be away for a little bit and we just feel like we have to continue what we’ve been doing and not get away from it,” Steve Novak said. “The next game is the most important and we have to continue the momentum.”