Is the current Knicks slump a reason to panic as the NBA playoffs near?

New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are getting further away from the dominant 12-2 stretch they saw after acquiring OG Anunoby. There may be reason to worry that such a pace may not return. The Knicks are 2-7 in their last nine games. Injuries are more to blame for that than lackluster play, but their slippage in the standings is getting concerning.

Knicks: One media member thinks the Knicks may have peaked during January hot streak

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post made the case that while it may be premature to hit the panic button, now’s the time to start thinking about it, saying in part:

“It is now officially fair to wonder if we saw the peak of this Knicks season at the end of January when in back-to-back games they blew out both participants in last year’s NBA Finals,” Vaccaro posed. But it was at the end of the second of those games, against the Heat, when Randle’s shoulder blew up. And by the time they regrouped in Charlotte a few days later, Anunoby had vanished, too.”

Thankfully, the Knicks are on the verge of getting Anunoby back. The 26-year-old defensive stopper has been cleared for non-contact drills in practice and could return sometime in March.

Randle is also progressing from his dislocated shoulder, though he has a longer timetable for recovery.

Can the Knicks survive schedule challenges before getting their full roster back at 100 percent?

When looking at the Knicks’ remaining schedule, things look daunting. New York will play 11 of their final 22 games against playoff teams.

They’ll start the first half of March with challenging Eastern Conference tests against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and Philadelphia 76ers twice, followed by the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, and Denver Nuggets out West.

Only 1.5 games separate the No. 4 seeded Knicks from the No. 8 seeded Miami Heat. New York will need all hands on deck to fend off the four teams nipping at their heels in the standings.

It’s a safe bet that the Knicks will field a healthy roster come April, just in time to gel before the postseason kicks off.

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