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It’s been fun. It’s been so fun. I haven’t had this much fun watching this team since I was a high school sophomore. I’m a year removed from completing undergrad. I love this team.

But it’s time to buckle up for a serious conversation.

Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight.com went through all the trouble to crunch some numbers. Using their Elo ratings and adjusting for home-court advantage, Paine calculated the average opponent strength for each team in the first and second halves of the season. The Knicks had the easiest first-half schedule with an average opposing Elo of 1481, per Paine, but will face the third-toughest second-half schedule with an average opponent Elo of 1520.

According to Tankathon.com, the Knicks’ strength of schedule is at .515, which is the fifth-highest in the NBA.

If you’re not catching up, allow me to break it down for you further: The Knicks have a very tough second half coming with many good teams on the ledger.

According to Tankathon, the Knicks’ toughest opponents include the Suns, Sixers and Lakers. Of these teams, the Knicks have only played the Sixers this season. Philadelphia beat up on New York, 109-89. That was the second game of the season for both teams. The Knicks still need to meet up with Devin Booker, Chris Paul and the surprising and surging Phoenix Suns twice and with LeBron James and the Lakers twice.

But don’t mistake these facts with pessimism.

I’m not saying the Knicks will go 6-29 over the last 35 games. I’m just saying, given the one-game-over-.500-pace we saw in the first half, it’ll be a lot tougher to go 18-17 in the second half.

Some of the easier games left in the Knicks schedule include dances with the Timberwolves, Rockets, Pistons, Magic and two against the Wizards. In the first half, the Knicks went 6-1 against these teams. 

Within the first six games after the All-Star break, the Knicks will have to play Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, the Big Three and the Brooklyn Nets and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid and the Sixers twice. The Knicks went 1-2 in first-half matchups against these teams.

Again, I’ll be happily surprised if the Knicks continue this pace, given what’s coming. The trauma and heartbreak tells me “the collapse is imminent” but the 2020-21 Knicks are different. 

But, don’t let up, Knicks fans. It’s been years since this franchise put together a competent team. The facts are the Knicks are over .500 at the All-Star break, no matter what all the miserable, jobless souls who have a troll Twitter account think or say. Keep cheering them on, keep being unbearable to the fan bases of other teams. You all (except noted fake fans Max Kellerman and Michael Rapaport) deserve this type of team. The type of team that is the talk of the town, the type of team on the back cover of the papers, the type of team that will get Madison Square Garden buzzing again with excitement and cheers rather than despair and boos, the type of team that, when The Garden is back at a full 19,000 fans, will be the loudest arena in the Association. 

I just don’t want you guys to be heartbroken and calling for jobs if this team doesn’t continue to play at a .500 pace.

But if they do, let everyone know that the New York Knicks are back.

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