When is a six-game winning streak in the NBA not actually a six-game winning streak? That rhetorical question can be answered thus, if you happen to be in the habit of answering rhetorical questions. A six-game winning streak is not really a six-game winning streak when five of those six wins have come against the dregs of the NBA; in other words, when the current six-game winning streak belongs to the New York Knicks, who have been on a vacation of sorts from playing competitive teams.
Their latest victory, the sixth straight overall win and the fifth straight misleading one, came at the expensive of the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, whom the Knicks handled easily en route to a 114-95 victory Saturday afternoon. While the Knicks have raised their winning percentage to a still abysmal .403, they are still the worse than mediocre team they were before they embarked on their longest winning streak of the season, a streak that is more indicative of the level of talent the Knicks have faced than in any increased basketball efficiency.
Beating the Milwaukee Bucks is easy, witness their 13-53 record for the season, so it was with little expended effort that the Knicks were able to build up a double-digit lead by the second quarter of the contest. From the point where they first led the Bucks by double digits, coming with 10:29 left in the second period, the Knicks only led by fewer than 10 points for 38 seconds over the remainder of the game.
At the end of this game that was only a contest in the most tenuous of ways, the Knicks boasted 12 different players who scored at least one basket, with five of those players reaching double figures. The scoring output of the Knicks was led by Carmelo Anthony (23 points) and Tim Hardaway, Jr. (20 points), who both put on efficient scoring clinics. Anthony produced 125 points per 100 possessions and Hardaway, Jr. produced 127 points per 100 possessions while the team as a whole, thanks to some outstanding shooting (.651 true shooting percentage), scored 137.7 points per 100 possessions.
With such a impressive display of offense, the Knicks barely needed to play defense to win the game so they barely played any defense, allowing the Bucks to rattle off an above-average scoring rate of 112.5 points per 100 possessions, which was quite the accomplishment for one of the worst offenses in the NBA. Then again, they were playing the Knicks so it is not as if they met much resistance on the way to the basket.
Since the Knicks will not face many dominant squads as their schedule winds down, it is likely that their final record for the season will be respectable enough to give the impression that they have salvaged their season and built up some momentum going into next year. But no matter how many wins the Knicks are able to rack up over their final 15 games, nothing will change the fact this season has been a disaster for the organization.